We posted last weekon 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.
MAGA v The Trustees of the Birmingham Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church  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.
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.
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.
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.
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)  EWCA Civ 142
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.
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).
Colonel Richard Kemp, former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, has written in the Times that lawyers have no place on the battlefield. He said: “In the heat of battle, a commander can’t worry about the Human Rights Act. It would make war impossible”
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
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).
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  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.
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.
Office of Communications v Information Commissioner  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.
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)
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.
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.
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) –  UKSC 15 – Read judgment / Press 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).
(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  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
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.
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.
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)  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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