After two failed appeals, the Supreme Court has left local authorities open to legal liability when it comes to children being abused whilst in foster care.
Natasha Armes spent 11 years in foster care from the age of 7 to 18. From March 1985 to March 1986 she lived with Mr and Mrs A. She was physically abused by Mrs A during this time. From October 1987 to February 1988 she lived with Mr and Mrs B. She was sexually abused by Mr B throughout her 5 month stay with them.
Armes took Nottinghamshire County Council through the High Court and Court of Appeals, alledging that they were liable for the abuse whilst under their care order.
Landmark Win Against Nottinghamshire Council
Despite the fact that local authorities are liable for abuse by carers in care homes, until now, local authorities have not been held liable for abuse by foster carers occurring in foster care.
At the Supreme Court, there was a 4 to 1 split in favour of Armes, making Nottinghamshire County Council liable for the abuse that Armes had suffered during her time in their care.
The court ruled that Nottinghamshire County Council was “vicariously liable” for the abuse perpetrated after placing Armes with the two foster care couples during the 1980s.
Abuse survivors and abuse solicitors have welcomed the ruling, stating that the decision was long overdue.
Foster carers are recruited, trained, paid and supervised by local authorities. After the success for Armes in the Supreme Court, liability is now imposed on local authorities for all abuse that takes place in care.
Anyone who has suffered abuse at the hands of a foster carer, whether it is recent or historical, now has the opportunity to hold local authorities responsible and can therefore claim compensation for damages.
“This decision is ground breaking. It is a welcome extension of the law that protects extremely vulnerable children and that can only be described as positive.”
“The Supreme Court has finally recognised the illogical thinking in that a care worker is the responsibility of the local authority but a foster carer is not, despite both of them being recruited, paid and supervised by the local authority.”
“For fifteen years I have been unable to represent abuse survivors because local authorities have not been held responsible. This ruling allows us to open the doors to those who have been silenced for years. For survivors seeking answers, it’s about time.”
If you have been a survivor of abuse whilst in care, our specialist abuse solicitors could help you gain compensation for the damages caused. Call our abuse team today for a free consultation.