LOCAL AUTHORITY/NEGLIGENCE: Lawrence v Pembrokeshire County Council [2007] EWCA Civ 446

22 MAY 2007

(Court of Appeal; Auld, Scott Baker and Richards LJJ; 15 May 2007)

A local authority did not owe a duty of care to a parent of a child when exercising, through its social workers, its duties to protect children from their parents, in this instance by placing them on the Child Protection Register as being at risk; the common law was, in this respect, unchanged by the introduction of the right to respect for family life under Art 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950 (the Convention). Art 8 did not undermine or weaken the primacy of the need to protect children from abuse or the risk of abuse from, among others, their parents. The common law protected from malice or bad faith, but not from a well-intentioned but negligent mistake; the provision of a discrete Convention remedy did not necessitate a change of the common law.

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