S v Gloucestershire County Council; L v Tower Hamlets London Borough Council and Havering London Borough Council [2000] 3 All ER 346 (CA)

Negligence – duty of care – statutory tort – immunity from suit – striking out – human rights

A local authority could not rely on blanket immunity in negligence cases, and child abuse cases were not bound to fail as a class. The failings of a local authority responsible under statutory powers for a person’s care and upbringing, could give rise to a common law negligence claim, if the failings were of a kind which were justiciable. The local authority could not rely on blanket immunity, and child abuse cases were not bound to fail as a class. There was an arguable existence of a duty arising from a local authority’s selection of foster parents. When considering whether a discretionary decision was negligent the court will ask itself whether the decision was plainly wrong. A summary hearing can be a fair hearing for the purpose of article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

*(H v Norfolk County Council overruled)

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