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High Court finds LB Hackney in breach of duties to disabled child

The High Court has today found that the London Borough of Hackney acted unlawfully in relation to the social care needs of a 13-year-old child, TS, and has quashed its assessment and care planning decision.  Hackney was also ordered to pay all of the legal costs of the proceedings, and has agreed to provide 2 nights per week of overnight respite to the child’s family pending a new assessment and care plan.

TS, who is described as being “significantly disabled,” lives at home for most of the week with her parents and her brother.  She has a diagnosis of William’s Syndrome,  a rare and complex condition.  On behalf of TS, it was successfully argued that Hackney had (1) failed to complete a lawful assessment of her social care needs, (2) failed to consider whether it should provide overnight respite in accordance with its duties under the Children Act 1989, and (3) had made an irrational and unlawful care planning decision.

Importantly, in terms of future decisions by local authorities in relation to the needs of disabled children, the High Court accepted that whilst Hackney had recorded the necessary information in relation to TS and her family’s needs, it had unlawfully failed to analyse those needs and that, as a consequence, a “realistic plan of action” was not put in place.  In particular, the assessment failed properly to consider and address TS’s family’s clear message that they were at crisis point unless they were provided with more support.

Alex Rook, solicitor for TS’s family, said “We are of course delighted for TS and her family that the High Court has today declared that Hackney have acted unlawfully in relation to meeting her needs.  TS’s parents have consistently stated that they are at crisis point, and Hackney’s assessment simply failed to properly grapple with that reality.  It is very unfortunate that court proceedings had to be issued, but we hope that Hackney will now properly engage with the family in order to meet their needs.”

The full judgment can be found at the link below.

TS was represented by Alex Rook and Rosie Campbell of Rook Irwin Sweeney and Scott Moncrieff & Associates, and Steve Broach and Ella Grodzinski of 39 Essex Chambers.

4 December 2023


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