Media By: Rosalind English


Claims against the Catholic Church: When is there vicarious liability, when is there a duty of care and are the situations different?

16 April 2010 by

Duty of care and the Catholic Church - the MAGA caseWe posted last week on issues of breach of duty in cases involving child protection, and mentioned the MAGA case as an important decision in extending the duty of care to priests in the Catholic church. The lawyers in the case have now written up the judgment.

Case comment by Elizabeth-Anne Gumbel QC and Justin Levinson

(Barristers for the Claimant, MAGA)

MAGA v The Trustees of the Birmingham Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church [2010] EWCA Civ 256, Court of Appeal (Lord Neuberger MR, Lord Justice Longmore and Lady Justice Smith) (read judgment)

This appeal was brought with permission from the trial Judge Mr Justice Jack. The claim arose out of sexual abuse suffered by the Claimant whilst a child living in the area of the Church of Christ the King in Coundon, Coventry. This was a Catholic church under the control of the the Trustees of the Birmingham Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church. The priests appointed to work at that church in the 1970s included a senior priest father McTernan and a younger priest Father Clonan. The Claimant was seriously and repeatedly sexually assaulted over a number of months by the younger priest known as Father Clonan. The abuse took place after Father Clonan befriended the Claimant, invited him to the church youth club and then to the Presbytery where Father Clonan and other priests including the senior Priest Father McTernan lived.

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Feature | Are the courts taking child protection too far in abuse claims?

8 April 2010 by

Sharon Shoesmith’s court action over her sacking by Haringey Council has once more brought to the fore the sorry account of neglect and mismanagement by police and local authorities of that led to the death of baby Peter Connelly (‘Baby P’). It has also, however, highlighted the increasingly significant role of courts in the UK and Europe in holding public and private authorities to account in claims involving allegations of child abuse.

It is not just local authorities that are under pressure. Allegations of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic church rumble on, occasionally erupting into well publicised court dramas. For example, the recent groundbreaking claim brought against a Catholic priest, Father Clonan, relating to events in Coventry in around 1976 (MAGA v The Trustees Of The Birmingham Archdiocese Of The Roman Catholic Church [2010] EWCA Civ 256).

The claimant (MAGA) was at the time a child of 12 with learning disabilities. The High Court had ruled that the Church was not liable for the abuse as MAGA was not a Roman Catholic, and as such Father Clonan had no business having any dealings with him and was not doing so in his capacity as a priest. MAGA succeeded on appeal because the Court of Appeal accepted that a priest’s duties are very wide, and involve him befriending non-Catholics, such as in the course of his evangelising role.

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Removal of child following faulty diagnosis of injury breached Article 8

2 April 2010 by

AD and OD v United Kingdom (Application No 28680/06), 2 April 2010

Read judgment

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled unanimously that a local authority’s failure to conduct a risk assessment, which resulted in a child being placed with foster parents, breached the right to respect for family life under Article 8 of the Convention.  It also concluded that the mother should have had available to her a means of claiming that the local authority’s handling of the procedures was responsible for any damage which she suffered and obtaining compensation for that damage. As such redress was not available to her, the Court held that she had suffered a violation of Article 13.

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Education not recognised as a “civil right” under Convention due process rules

29 March 2010 by

R (on the application of LG) (Appellant) v Independent Appeal Panel for Tom Hood School (Respondent) & Secretary of State for the Department for Children, Schools and Families (Interested Party) [2010] EWCA Civ 142

(Read judgment here)

CA (Civ Div) (Rix LJ, Wilson LJ, Sir Scott Baker) February 26 2010

An exclusion hearing by a school does not engage the pupil’s Article 6 of the Convention since there is no “civil right” to education recognized as such either by the Convention or by domestic law.

Summary

The appellant pupil (VG) had been involved in a fight at the school. He was accused of having a knife, which he denied. The school permanently excluded VG and he appealed. The panel, in accordance with the Education (Pupil Exclusions and Appeals) (Maintained Schools) (England) Regulations 2002 reg.7A, found on the balance of probabilities that he had carried a knife, and upheld his exclusion. VG appealed against a decision ((2009) EWHC 369 (Admin), (2009) BLGR 691) to refuse his application for judicial review of the decision of the respondent panel to uphold a decision to permanently exclude him from a school. He argued that his right to a fair hearing under Article 6 was engaged, either on the basis that the panel had determined his civil right not to be excluded from the school without good reason, or on the basis that the panel had determined a criminal charge against him, and that right had been infringed by the decision to exclude him having been based on allegations established against him on the balance of probabilities rather than on the criminal standard of proof. He also contended that regulation 7A(c), although purportedly made pursuant to the Education Act 2002 s.52, was ultra vires in that a rule about standard of proof was one of evidence and not procedure as permitted by s.52(3)(d).

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Exceptionally serious circumstances must be established to resist extradition order says Supreme Court

5 March 2010 by

Norris v United States [2010] UKSC 9

SC (Lord Phillips, Lord Hope, Lord Rodger, Lady Hale, Lord Brown, Lord Mance, Lord Judge, Lord Collins, Lord Kerr) 24 February 2010

In determining whether interference with an individual’s right to a family life was justified to achieve the aim of extradition, the court should not consider whether the circumstances were exceptional but should consider whether the consequences were exceptionally serious

SUMMARY

The appellant had recently retired from his job as CEO of a company that had been involved in price fixing. He had successfully resisted an extradition order sought by the United States on the grounds that price-fixing in the UK was not illegal (Norris v United States (2008) UKHL 16, (2008) 1 AC 920). However, the court held that the other charge against him – obstructing justice – justified extradition and his case was remitted to a district judge. The district judge decided that he should be extradited. His decision was upheld by the divisional court, which concluded that the obstruction of justice charges were very grave and that a high threshold would have to be reached before the appellant’s rights under Article 8 could outweigh the public interest in extradition ((2009) EWHC Admin 995, (2009) Lloyd’s Rep FC 475).

Read judgment here or

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EU Directive on Refugee status does not enhance asylum rights under Strasbourg Convention

28 February 2010 by

The Queen on the Application of MK(Iran) v Secretary of State for the Home Department
CA (Civ Div) (Sedley LJ, Carnwath LJ, Smith LJ) 25/2/2010 [2010] EWCA Civ 115

Directive 2004/83, which recognised the right to asylum as part of EU, did not alter the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights that asylum decisions did not constitute determinations of civil rights under Article 6 of the Convention, and consequently a foreign national had no right under Convention law to claim for damages for the delay in processing his asylum application.
Read judgment or
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Supreme Court rules that presumption against children giving evidence not reconcilable with rights to justice under the Convention

11 February 2010 by

Re W (Children) [2010] UKSC 12

SC (Lord Walker, Lady Hale, Lord Brown, Lord Mance, Lord Kerr) March 3 2010

The facts of this case are set out in the report of the Court of Appeal judgment below. In the Supreme Court the stepfather continued his submission that there should be no presumption against a child giving evidence, as that gave insufficient weight to the rights of all concerned under the European Convention on Human Rights 1950.

Read the judgment

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Supreme Court refers question of public interest in disclosure about mobile phone masts to ECJ

29 January 2010 by

Office of Communications v Information Commissioner [2010] UKSC 3

SC (Lord Hope (Deputy President), Lord Saville, Lady Hale, Lord Mance, Lord Collins) January 27 2010

Article 4(2) of the European Directive 2003/4 imposes a duty to disclose environmental information. The Environmental Regulations were passed in 2004 to give effect to the Directive, the duty being contained in Regulation 12.. There are a number of different exceptions to this duty, one of which is the public safety exception in reg 12(5)(a), and another the intellectual property rights exception in reg. 12(5)(c).

The information commissioner had ordered that the respondent (OFCOM) disclose information as to the precise location of mobile telephone base stations in the United Kingdom. The Information Tribunal had dismissed OFCOM’s appeal against the order, finding that although disclosure fell within the scope of the two exceptions under 12(5)(a) and (c), both were outweighed by the public interest in disclosure.

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Teacher subject to disciplinary proceedings entitled to legal representation if his name is to be added to children protection register

23 January 2010 by

Governers of X School v R(on the Application of G) (Claimant) & Y City Council and Secretary of State for Children and Schools and Families (Interveners) & Equality and Human Rights Commission (Interested Party)

[2010] EWCA Civ 1;CA (Civ Div) (Laws LJ, Wilson LJ, Goldring J) January 20 2010

Where an individual had a civil right being determined in one set of proceedings for the purposes of Article 6, he would be able to claim protection under that provision in any other proceeding involving him if the outcome of that other would have a substantial effect on the determination of that civil right.

SUMMARY

The claimant had been employed as a teaching assistant at the appellant school. As a result of alleged incident of a sexual nature with a pupil, disciplinary procedures were instigated against him which culminated in the hearing before the committee. He was told that in these hearings employees could be represented by a colleague or a trade union representative but that any other form of legal representation would not be permitted.

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Jewish Free School policy on admissions in breach of race relations law

18 January 2010 by

R (on the application of E) (Respondent) v (1) JFS Governing Body (2) Admissions Panel of JFS (Appellants) : R (on the application of E) (Respondent) v (1) JFS Governing Body (2) Admissions Panel of JFS (Appellants) & ORS (United Synagogue) – [2009] UKSC 15 – Read judgmentPress summary

A school for Orthodox Jews which tested applicants for matrilineal descent was acting on the basis of ethnic origin, meaning that their admission requirement constituted direct racial discrimination.

The Court of Appeal has decided there that the appellant school’s admissions policy had directly racially discriminated against the son of the respondent father, contrary to the Race Relations Act 1976 s.1 (RRA).

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Court rules on injunctions against animal rights protesters

19 November 2009 by

(1)Novartis Pharmaceuticals Uk Ltd (2) Andrew Roy Grantham v (1) Stop Huntingdon Aminal Cruelty (SHAC) by its representative Max Gastone (2) Greg Avery (3) Natasha Avery (4) Heather James [2009] EWHC 2716 (QBD)

Sweeney J 30 October 2009

An injunction against animal rights protesters could not be altered to increase the restriction on their protest without a disproportionate interference with the protesters’ rights under Articles 10 and 11 of the Convention.

Click below for summary and comment by Rosalind English or here to read the full judgment

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Article 3 and the minimum standard of social support

18 November 2009 by

R (on the application of EW) v Secretary of State for the Home Department, [2009] EWHC 2957 (Admin) 18 November 2009 – read judgment

Summary and comment by Rosalind English

Article 3 does not dictate a minimum standard of social support for those in need, nor does it require the state to provide a home or minimum level of financial assistance to all within its care.

SUMMARY

W was an Eritrean national who had entered the UK illegally. Fingerprint evidence traced his irregular entry into the EC to Italy following which the UK authorities sought from the Italian authorities an undertaking to accept responsibility for W’s application for asylum under the terms of the Dublin II Regulation. Italy did not respond and therefore it was deemed to have accepted responsibility for the asylum claim by default.

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Court sets out producers’ obligations under waste electronic equipment directive

18 September 2009 by

R (on the application of REPIC Ltd) v (1) Secretary of State for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (2) Environment Agency (Defendants) & (1) Scottish Environment Protection Agency (2) Electrolink Recylcing Ltd and (3) WERC Ltd T/A City Compliance Scheme (Interested Parties) [2009] EWHC 2015 (Admin)

QBD (Admin) (Wyn Williams J) 31 July 2009

The Regulations adopted pursuant to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive of 2002 were not breached when an operator of a producer compliance scheme collected more waste electrical and electronic equipment from private households than was necessary to meet its obligations.

The claimant, an electronics producer operating a compliance scheme under the WEEE Regulations applied for a declaration, by way of judicial review, that the defendants had failed to discharge their duties to enforce the Regulations when they refused to take action against the over-collection by the Second and Third Interested Parties.

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