We represented three siblings in a claim for compensation against the local authority, securing five-figure sums for each client.
The family of our clients (Felicity, Megan and Joe) became known to social services soon after Felicity’s birth. Concerns were raised about poor standards of hygiene, inappropriate clothing and Felicity being left with unsuitable carers. Their step-father subjected the children to systematic physical and emotional abuse. Megan was reported to have injuries to her arm and hand. Following Child Protection investigations, the step-father was formally cautioned in relation to Megan’s injuries. Social services still didn’t remove the children from their parents’ care.
After this investigation, the social workers continued to note further incidents of bruising to the children and various anonymous complaints were noted about the children being locked in bedrooms and not being fed. The mother and step-father were known to abuse alcohol and heroin. The step-father spent time in jail for crimes reportedly committed to support his and the mother’s drug habits.
Concerns about the children’s basic care continued until they were placed on the Child Protection Register. The children, however, remained living in the family home despite the signs of physical abuse and neglect that were already apparent.
The children were finally taken into care, where they were initially fostered and then adopted. Due to the emotional harm caused by their mother and step-father, this adoption nearly broke down. Successful applications to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) were made in the sums of £1,000 for Joe and £7,325 to Felicity and Megan.
Irwin Mitchell was instructed by the Official Solicitor, and we applied for and received public funding. We sent a letter of claim to the legal department at the local authority and they contacted solicitors.
We asked a social work expert to report on the standards of social work care received by the clients. In her report, the social worker supported the claim against the local authority. She found that the social work service provided to the children fell below the required standard and that as a result, they were exposed to a high level of physical and emotional harm and neglect for a prolonged period.
The local authority’s solicitor put forward offers to settle these claims. They offered £10,000 for Felicity, £15,000 for Megan and £3,500 for Joe. It was our assessment that these offers were too low, but we were unable to confirm the compensation the clients should receive without medical evidence. We got the necessary evidence from a child psychiatrist who confirmed that the clients suffered from psychiatric injuries as a result of the neglect they suffered in their mother and step-father’s care.
The local authority admitted breach of duty of care to the clients and put forward offers to settle their cases. They offered £17,500 for Felicity and Megan and £12,500 for Joe. These offers were based on the social services records and care proceedings. The local authority’s solicitors were yet to see our medical evidence.
We discussed the offers with Felicity and Megan. Joe was still represented by the Official Solicitor at 17 but we ensured that he was also advised in person. We recommended that Megan and Joe accept these offers. We advised Felicity that her offer was too low and we should attempt to secure an increased settlement. We returned to the Local Authority and were able to negotiate an increase to £21,500.
Natasha Fairs, a solicitor in Irwin Mitchell’s child abuse team, represented Felicity, Megan and Joe. She said: "These cases demonstrate the devastating long-term damage that can follow years of emotional abuse and neglect. Even after they were removed into care they did not get the therapy they needed which nearly resulted in the adoption breaking down. Felicity, Megan and Joe were able to use these damages to move on and begin work on rebuilding their lives."
Back to Client Story