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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

27 AUG 2005

CHILD ABUSE: D v East Berkshire Community Health NHS Trust; MAK v Dewsbury Healthcare NHS Trust; RK v Oldham NHS Trust [2005] UKHL 23

(21 April 2005; Lord Bingham of Cornhill, Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead, Lord Steyn, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry and Lord Brown; [2005] The Times April 22, [2005] 2 FLR 284

Healthcare and other child care professionals did not owe a common law duty of care to parents not to make unfounded allegations of child abuse. The child, not the parent, was the doctor's patient, in whose best interests he was obliged to act. Where the doctor's suspicions were aroused, he had to be able to act single-mindedly in the child's interests without regard to the possibility of a claim by the parent. The seriousness of child abuse as a social problem demanded that healthcare and other child care professionals should not be subjected to conflicting duties when deciding whether a child might have been abused and what further steps to take. (Lord Bingham, dissenting, would have allowed the claims to go to trial.)

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