Groundbreaking Administrative Court judgment finds that young child is entitled to damages following absence from education

04 Jul 2017

In  R (E) v London Borough of Islington [2017] EWHC 1440 (Admin) the Administrative Court has held that a local authority is liable in damages to a young child (E) for breach of her human right to education under Article 2 of the First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights (A2P1). The Court (Ben Emmerson QC, sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge) also found that the local authority’s assessment of E’s care needs was vitiated by misguided reasoning and therefore unlawful.

The successful education claim marks the first occasion on which the English Courts have upheld a damages claim based on a breach of A2P1, after two Supreme Court judgments as a result of which such claims had failed (A v Head Teacher and Governors of Lord Grey School [2006] 2 AC 363 and A v Essex County Council (National Autistic Society intervening) [2011] AC 280; [2010] UKSC 33).  In the present case, E’s claim concerned three separate periods during which (the Court held) Islington was responsible for providing her with full-time education but – for one reason or another – failed to secure it. Notably, during one of those periods, Islington had accommodated E and her family in temporary homelessness accommodation in another London borough, and yet the Court was satisfied that Islington bore primary responsibility for the breach of E’s A2P1 rights during that period also.  The case will therefore be of interest not only because it is the first example of a successful damages claim based on A2P1 in this jurisdiction, but also because of its implications for local authority’s duties towards homeless children of compulsory school age, including those that they elect to accommodate in a different local authority district.

Following a contested hearing on consequential matters, E was also awarded 100% of her costs, and successfully opposed the local authority’s application for permission to appeal. Having found that E is entitled to damages by way of just satisfaction under section 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998, the Court has also set down a procedure for the determination of quantum.

Monckton’s Ian Wise QC and Michael Armitage acted for the successful Claimant throughout the proceedings, instructed by Rebekah Carrier of Hopkin Murray Beskine solicitors.