Claiming Damages against Local Authorities in Care Proceedings:
Date posted: 7 February 2017
Some families have now been able to claim damages against a Local Authority for breaches of their rights under the Human Rights Act 1998 in cases involving children in care proceedings.
Individuals, whether parents or children, have been able to make successful claims for compensation where the Court has found that their Article 6 and Art 8 rights have been infringed by the Local Authority.
Article 6 governs the right to a fair trial and Article 8 concerns an individual’s right to respect of his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
Where these Articles have been breached by the Local Authority, it is possible to make a claim for damages against that Local Authority and it seems that such cases are on the rise.
However, it should also be borne in mind that the Courts have not granted large sums as compensation. The Association of Lawyers for Children have recently published a schedule of recent awards. The highest reported award was £20,000 each for a mother and child Medway Council v M & T  EWFC B164. In this matter, there were breaches of both Article 6 and Article 8, including a failure of the Local Authority to issue care proceedings in respect of the child for over two years, which left both mother and child in limbo.
Whilst these awards are still rare, but they do show a greater willingness on behalf of the Court to award compensation to families where it is due.