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05 APR 2006

LOCAL AUTHORITY/NEGLIGENCE: A v Hoare; H v Suffolk County Council; X and Y v Wandsworth London Borough Council [2006] EWCA Civ 395

(Court of Appeal; Sir Anthony Clarke MR, Brooke and Arden LJJ; 12 April 2006) [2006] FLR (forthcoming)

The plaintiffs claimed damages in negligence in relation to attempted sexual abuse and rape. The respondents argued that the claims were out of time, being subject to the fixed 6-year limitation period from the date of assault or from the claimants' majority if later which applied to claims arising out of intentional sexual assaults.

The Human Rights Act 1998 could not be used retrospectively to prevent a defence based on limitation. It was not viable to argue that local authorities were vicariously responsible for the teachers' breach of duty in failing to report their own misconduct, in order to take advantage of the extendable 3-year limitation period applicable to actions for breach of duty. The present law suffered from very serious deficiencies and incoherencies; although the Court of Appeal could not address these, the House of Lords might be able to provide a remedy. The limitation period applied and the appeals had to be dismissed.

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