Client: Essex County Council (A v Essex County Council  SC)
Issue / Claim: The claimant was 12 years old when he stopped attending school. He has severe learning difficulties. His behaviour was deteriorating and he was a risk to both staff and pupils. A comprehensive medical assessment was carried out which ultimately resulted in a residential placement at a cost of £223,000 a year. By the time the placement began he had been out of school for 18 months during which time he received interim support. It was accepted that this support did not meet his complex needs but it was always intended to be temporary whilst an adequate long term solution was reached. The claimant brought a damages claim against the council for breach of his human right not to be denied access to education.
Weightmans’ investigation and action: Applying our expertise in this area and our knowledge of the relevant case law we applied to strike the claim out on the basis that it had no reasonable prospect of success. Our application was successful in the High Court and the claimant’s appeal to the Court of Appeal failed. The matter went to the Supreme Court where we successfully argued that the human right to education was more limited in its scope than the claimant was seeking to establish.
Result: Claim successfully defended and a binding precedent established in the highest court in the land on an important legal issue.