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Claim against a local authority

Please note that this department only deal with actions against local authorities involving Adult Social Care and Children’s Services.

We make complaints and bring civil claims for compensation against local authorities for the following types of cases:

  • Unlawful deprivation of liberty
  • Historical abuse
  • Removal of a child from the family home under a Section 20 Agreement
  • Failure to remove a child/children from their home
  • Breach of the Human Rights Act 1998 following Family Court proceedings


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Funding your claim

We offer competitive private funding rates and routinely act for clients who pay privately. We are proud of the service we offer to our clients. We are also a practice that has the benefit of a legal aid franchise and as such, are able to act for the most vulnerable clients, free of charge.

On occasions, we may act for you under a no win, no fee agreement.  Please look at our funding page for more information about the various options for funding your case.

How we will assess your case - claim against local authority

Our team are experts in bringing civil compensation claims against all types of public authorities and our services are in very high demand.  Our experts assess every one of the hundreds of enquiries that we receive each month and our case review panel decides which ones we are able to accept based on the prospects of success of each case and our capacity to deal with it. They will also decide which of the various funding options we can offer.

Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to accept every case that we’re contacted about and we have to reject many of the enquiries we receive. In order for us to properly assess your enquiry we will require some basic details, such as your name and contact email as well as some basic information about your case. Providing us with these details is not a guarantee that we will accept your case. 

You will be notified by email about whether your case has been accepted or not but we do not provide reasons if we decide to reject it.

We can help with

Unlawful deprivation of liberty

The right to liberty is protected by Article 5 of the Human Rights Act 1998.

A deprivation of liberty occurs when someone is under continuous supervision and control and is not free to leave. If you are not able to make an informed choice about the restrictions you’re under or the deprivation of your liberty has not been authorised, then you may be entitled to compensation.

Deprivation of liberty can take place anywhere and can apply to adults and children in care of the local authority.

For adults, an example would be those residing in a care home setting who may be deprived of their liberty as a result of their care package. The doors may be locked and they may be unable to leave without supervision.

For children in the care of the local authority, examples could be that the child is under strict supervision, unable to use a mobile telephone, unable to access their belongings where these have been removed for their own safety or where the doors to the child’s accommodation are kept locked.

Whilst in both examples, the purpose is to safeguard the individual, if these restrictions are not authorised, then this could amount to unlawful deprivation of their liberty and give rise to a claim under the Human Rights Act 1998.

Historical abuse claims

We understand how difficult and traumatic it can be to think about or revisit your past if it has involved any form of physical or sexual abuse. Our claims against public authority team have a wealth of experience in working with people who have suffered abuse in the past and understand how challenging it can be to discuss and to seek legal advice. Our solicitors offer completely confidential and sensitive guidance throughout the process of claiming compensation for historical physical and/or sexual abuse.

In cases of historical abuse, it can be extremely difficult and complex for those who have suffered to recall what has happened. Cases of historical physical and/or sexual abuse can occur anytime from childhood to more recently and the victim of the abuse may question whether they are likely to have a potential claim, particularly if there is a lack of evidence.

A claim can be brought against a local authority for historical abuse, if you were known to the local authority and it could be argued that they failed to take steps to either intervene or safeguard you from harm. This could be in circumstances where you were living at home but had involvement with children’s services or if you were placed in the local authorities care. 

Whilst there are time limits that apply to cases of historical abuse, the courts recognise that in some cases the abuse will have taken place many years previously and that there may be a variety of reasons for someone not pursuing a claim for compensation sooner. Whilst the usual time limits may have long since expired, the court will consider the individual reasons for any delay and will then decide whether to exercise its discretion and allow an individual to bring a claim out of time.

Due to complexity of these types of cases, regardless of when the abuse happened, it is therefore important to seek legal advice.

Removal of a child from the family home under a Section 20 Agreement

Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 provides a local authority with the power to provide accommodation to a child without any court involvement or a Court Order. A section 20 agreement can sometimes be known as ‘voluntary accommodation’ as the parents of the child must also agree to the child being accommodated by the local authority.

If the local authority has sought agreement from a parent to remove a child from their home, in circumstances where that parent lacked the capacity to consent, then this may be unlawful.

Prior to accommodating a child under a section 20 agreement, the local authority must also ensure that they have offered a proper explanation and alternative options to the parent of the child.

Even if a child is lawfully accommodated under a section 20 agreement, this agreement is meant to be a short term measure. If the local authority fail to undertake the necessary assessments and/or fail to make an application for a care order in a reasonable time, then this delay may also be unlawful.

In all of the circumstances outlined above, the actions of a local authority may amount to a breach of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 and compensation may be awarded.

Failure to remove a child/children from their home

A claim may be brought against a local authority in circumstances where a child is subject to neglect and/or abuse whilst living in the family home. If the child was known to the local authority and it could be argued that the local authority failed to intervene or safeguard the child when they should have done, then the child may be able to pursue a claim for compensation.

This can also apply in circumstances where the local authority, whilst involved with the child, failed to act quickly enough, resulting in the child remaining in an unsafe environment for longer than they should have been.

A failure or delay in removing a child from the family home in circumstances where they are subjected to neglect and/or abuse can cause long term and significant harm.

Breach of the Human Rights Act 1998 following Family Court proceedings

If you have been a party to Family Court proceedings, there is a possibility that the Family Court or your legal advisor will advise you that there has been a likely breach of either your or your children’s human rights. These rights can be breached as part of the actions taken by the Local Authority prior to the proceedings and/or during the proceedings themselves.

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