Specialist Lawyers Say Legal Action Being Taken To Safeguard Rights of Vulnerable People
Parents, family members and ‘co-workers’ at three separate communities which support people with learning difficulties run by a leading UK charity are to take their legal battle to the High Court.
This follows permission granted by the Charity Commission for the action to be brought coupled with a criticism that the charity concerned has not sought to resolve matters through formal mediation.
The 23 litigants are seeking to reverse changes taking place at their communities that they say are having very damaging consequence on residents.
The Charity Commission for England and Wales has given permission to the group of claimants, all connected to the communities run by the Camphill Village Trust (CVT), to take their case to the High Court.
This is the culmination of a 3-year battle by the claimants who have instructed specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help.
The claimants say that the changes being forced through by the CVT are destroying a unique model of care based on the principles of Dr Rudolf Steiner which allows the learning disabled to live fulfilling lives by living and working as equals with those who care for them
The villages affected are Botton in North Yorkshire, Delrow in Hertfordshire and the Grange in Gloucestershire.
CVT has operated in accordance with the principles of Dr Rudolf Steinerfor over 60 years, operating a shared living model of care within each community. But now, in each location CVT is forcing through changes by introducing a radically different system of management and replace live-in carers with shift workers.
The case will now be heard in the Chancery Division of the High Court where the group will argue that CVT’s governing documents prevent the charity from making these changes.
In granting permission The Charity Commission said it was assured that the claimants were keen to try to resolve the dispute out of court.
It added in a criticism of the charity that it was “disappointing” CVT had not been not prepared to engage in Alternative Dispute Resolution unless and until the Commission had authorised proceedings.
Expert Opinion“This represents the next steps in the group’s legal battle to safeguard the rights of the vulnerable adults who call these communities home. They believe the changes would bring about a massive upheaval for vulnerable people in Botton, Delrow and the Grange. We argue that what they are proposing goes directly against the terms of their governing charity agreement.
“There are serious concerns about changing the way of life that has existed for many decades, and how this would impact on the village communities, and we hope that the court will ultimately order that the trustees have acted in a way that is beyond their powers.” Alex Rook - Partner
Julian Haxby, who is a leading voice of the group of 23 co-workers and parents of residents, and whose brother is a resident at Delrow said: “We are delighted that the Charity Commission has given us permission to take this matter to trial. We have always wished to avoid this and have repeatedly urged the charity to enter into formal dispute resolution to find common ground for the sake of our beneficiaries. We sincerely hope CVT now sees sense and comes to the table with an open mind to end this hugely damaging dispute.”
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