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Team 2   Jonny(Jan08)
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Team 2 Jonny(Jan08)


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  • 1. Pierce v Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council [2007] EWHC 2968 13 th December 2007
  • 2. The Claim
    • Claimant – Jake Pearce, aged 31 years old
    • Defendant – Doncaster Met BC
    • Claim for damages for a breach of duty of care
    • Basis of claim was the failure of the council to “take reasonable steps to protect him during his childhood”
  • 3. Background
    • Shortly after his birth he was removed from family home
    • Placed in Foster Care August 1976 to November 1977 (returned to care of parents)
    • He left home and lived on the streets towards the end of 1990 when he was 15 years old
  • 4. Reasons for the claim
    • The council sanctioned his return to his parents without a proper or adequate assessment of the family home and parents ability to care for him, there was also inadequate follow-up and monitoring
    • He suffered severe neglect, emotional and physical abuse from his parents
    • He also experienced sexual and physical abuse whilst living on the streets from 1990
  • 5. What he was claiming for
    • Pain and suffering
    • Psychiatric damage attributable to that abuse
    • He argued that no reasonable and competent social services department would have returned him to his parents
    • At the time there were professional standards which were not kept to and there exists a corpus of evidence (documentary records from the period)
    • He also argued that he has suffered psychiatric damage which was attributable to his childhood abuse
  • 6. The Ruling
    • It was obvious the defendant owed a duty of care from mid-1976
    • The judge could not see how the imposition of the duty was anything but fair, just and reasonable
    • Council was in breach by allowing the defendant back into parental care in Nov 1977
    • On the balance of probabilities the claimant had suffered “indifference, neglect and periodic violence in the home environment at the hands of his parents” (Mr Justice Eady)
  • 7.
    • If he had not returned home it is likely that he would have been fostered, adopted or lived in local authority care.
    • Reasonable to presume he would have been looked after properly.
  • 8. Conclusion
    • He would not have undergone the physical cruelty and emotional deprivation he had suffered at home if the council had not placed him back in the care of his parents
    • Therefore the council have breached their duty of care
    • Standard of care was that of “a competent department judged accordingly to the prevailing professional climate at the time”
  • 9. Damages
    • The neglect and abuse during childhood including the physical violence was provable
    • But the later abuse whilst living on the streets was too speculative and remote
    • Awarded £25,000 for pain, suffering and loss of amenity in the circumstances