Art in Chambers:
London 1936 by Wolf Suschitzky
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X & Y v Hounslow LBC: council did not owe a duty of care to protect adults with learning difficulties from attacks by third parties
In a judgment handed down on 2nd April 2009, the Court of Appeal has held that a council did not owe a duty of care in the tort of negligence to protect adults with learning disabilities who are living in the community from attacks by third parties. The court held that a public authority which is trying to exercise its statutory powers and duties does not, without some additional ingredient, assume a responsiblity in the law of Tort. Thus a social worker who visited the claimant was merely performing her statutory duty which did not itself give rise to a private law cause of action. With specific reference to an allegation that a housing authority owed a duty to re-house the claimants because of the danger they were in, the court held that it would not be fair, just or reasonable to impose such a duty given the fact that the authority had to balance the claimants' interests against those of other deserving cases and the rights of other tenants.
Edward Faulks QC and Andrew Warnock, instructed by Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, appeared for the local authority.