O’Rourke v Camden London Borough Council [1997] 3 All ER 23

Breach of statutory duty – private law damages – homelessness

Whether a statutory duty gave rise to a cause of action sounding in damages depended on whether the Act in question showed a legislative intention to create such a remedy.

The fact that the duty to provide accommodation for homeless persons contained in s63 of the Housing Act 1985 was enforceable in public law by individual homeless persons, that the Act was a scheme of social welfare, intended on grounds of public policy and public interest to confer benefits at the public expense not only for the private benefit of people who found themselves homeless but also for the benefit of society in general, and that the existence of the duty to provide accommodation was largely dependent on the housing authority’s judgement and discretion, as was the type of accommodation to be provided, all indicated that it was unlikely that Parliament had intended s63 to create private law rights of action. It followed that the breach of statutory duty which was the subject of the plaintiff’s complaint did not give rise to a cause of action in private law.

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