Judicial Control

November 13th, 2015

A compensation claim against a local authority for child abuse in foster care in the period 1985-1988 failed in the Court of Appeal in NA v Nottinghamshire County Council [2015] EWCA Civ 1139 in the light of the then legislative framework within which the authority exercised its powers.  The authority had not been negligent in placing the child with foster carers.  Nor had it been negligent in supervising the placement.  It retained its overarching powers.  It was not vicariously liable for the abuse perpetrated by the foster parents.  Nor was it responsible for their actions on the basis of a non-delegable duty of care.  It had taken reasonable steps to protect the child from harm.  Fostering is a function which the authority must, if it thinks it the appropriate choice, entrust to others. By arranging the foster placement the authority discharged rather than delegated its duty to provide accommodation and maintenance for the child.  It was inherent in the permitted choice of foster care that it must be provided by third parties rather than by the authority itself.  Moreover, there is no non-delegable duty not deliberately to assault or inflict harm.

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