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(European Court of Human Rights; 30 September 2008)
The baby had been taken into care because of an unexplained fracture, but it was later discovered that the baby had brittle bone syndrome, and she was returned to the parents' care. The parents issued a claim for damages; eventually the House of Lords rejected their negligence action on the basis that parents were not owed a duty of care by child protection professionals. The parents claimed damages in the European Court of Human Rights for breaches of European Convention on Human Rights, Arts 8 and 13.
Mistaken judgments or assessments by professionals did not in themselves establish breaches of European Convention, Art 8. The social and medical authorities could not be faulted for not reaching an immediate diagnosis of the baby's condition, a condition that was both rare and very difficult to diagnose in very small infants. There had been relevant and sufficient reasons for the authorities to take protective measures and the measures taken had been proportionate to the aim of protecting the child, and had taken due account of and given procedural protection to the parents' interests. However, there had been a violation of the Art 13 right to an effective remedy for any arguable violation of human rights. The parents should have had available to them a means of claiming that local authority's handling of the procedures was responsible for any damage they had suffered, and a means of obtaining compensation for such damage. The court awarded the parents 10,000 Euros for non-pecuniary damage and 18,000 Euros for costs and expenses.
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