A mother whose child has been taken into care without due cause is not necessarily entitled to compensation.
In a recent case, “A” v East Sussex County Council, the Court of Appeal ruled that a mother whose child was taken into care unnecessarily was not entitled to compensation under human rights legislation, even though the Court accepted the Council had overestimated the risks the child faced. “Potential claimants need to be aware of the impact of this ruling”, commented Sandra Meakins a partner in Kidd Rapinet’s Farnham office. “Even if the Council overestimates the risk, a potential claim can still fail.”
The mother reported concerns about episodes in which the child had apparently stopped breathing. The hospital consultant who saw the child was concerned that it was a case of ‘fictitious illness’ and contacted social services. The events occurred during the Christmas holiday, and the local authority did not consider that a family court could be convened in time to make an emergency protection order and therefore arranged for the child to be taken into foster care on an emergency basis. The child was later allowed home with the mother after she attended the mother and baby unit.
The mother of the child sued the council for damages, arguing that it had breached her rights under the Human Rights Act 1998. Although the Court of Appeal expressed every sympathy for the mother, it concluded that even though the local authority had overestimated the risk to the child, this did not mean that the “protective measures were wrongly taken”.
If you feel you may need advice, either as a claimant or as a defendant, Kidd Rapinet can advise you on the latest law in this field. Call Sandra Meakins on 01252 713242 for further information.