The Court of Appeal has ruled that local authorities cannot be held liable for children abused in foster homes.
In NA v Nottinghamshire County Council, a woman who was abused in two separate foster homes sought to hold the local authority responsible for what she went through. Her original application was rejected by a lower court. The judge in that case ruled that the lack of control from a local authority was “essential to the whole concept of foster parenting”.
Natasha Armes chose not to remain anonymous, despite her right to do so. She challenged the original judge’s ruling in the Court of Appeal but it was upheld.
Lord Justice Tomlinson decried the “cruel” and “utterly despicable” treatment Ms Armes had received in each placement. However, he called foster care “a function which the local authority must, if it thinks it the appropriate choice, entrust to others”.
He said that once a child has been placed in foster care, the local authority “discharged rather than delegated its duty to provide accommodation and maintenance for the child”.
Lady Justice Black also agreed with the original verdict. She said that “even proper care on the part of the local authority cannot always prevent harm coming to the child from the foster parents”. Making a local authority liable for abuse committed by foster parents could have a negative impact, as they may decide against such placements even for children who would benefit from it, she insisted.
To read the full judgment, click here.
Photo of the Royal Courts of Justice by Jasn via Flickr