X (Minors) -v- Bedfordshire County Council; M (A Minor) and Another -v- Newham London Borough Council; Etc; HL 29 Jun 1995

References: Independent 30-Jun-95, Times 30-Jun-95, [1995] 2 AC 633, [1995] UKHL 9, [1995] 2 FLR 276, [1995] 3 All ER 353, [1995] 3 WLR 152, [1995] 3 FCR 337
Links: Bailii
Coram: Lord Browne-Wilkinson, Sir Thomas Bingham MR
Damages were to be awarded against a Local Authority for breach of statutory duty in a care case, only if the statute was clear that damages were capable of being awarded. in the ordinary case a breach of statutory duty does not, by itself, give rise to any private law cause of action. However a private law cause of action will arise if it can be shown, as a matter of construction of the statute, that the statutory duty was imposed for the protection of a limited class of the public and that Parliament intended to confer on members of that class a private right of action for breach of statutory duty. If the statute provides no other remedy for its breach and the Parliamentary intention to protect a limited class is shown, that indicates that there may be a private right of action since otherwise there is no method of securing the protection the statute was intended to confer. If the statute does provide some other means of enforcing the duty that will normally indicate that the statutory right was intended to be enforceable by those means and not by private right of action. However, the mere existence of some other statutory remedy is not necessarily decisive. If it comes to the attention of a headmaster that a pupil is under-performing, he does owe a duty to take such steps, as a reasonable teacher would consider appropriate to try to deal with such under-performance. The House referred to ‘the rule of public policy which has first claim on the loyalty of the law; that wrongs should be remedied’
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This case is cited by:

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    The applicant was mother of three children, two of whom were autistic. She sought re-housing from the defendant. It was claimed that s17 imposed a specific duty on the authority, having identified a child’s needs, in this case for re-housing, to . .
  • Cited – O’Rourke -v- Mayor etc of the London Borough of Camden HL (House of Lords, Bailii, [1997] UKHL 24, [1997] 3 WLR 86, [1998] AC 188, [1997] 3 All ER 23)
    The claimant had been released from prison and sought to be housed as a homeless person. He said that his imprisonment brought him within the category of having special need. He also claimed damages for the breach.
    Held: The Act was intended . .
  • Cited – Lord Ashcroft -v- Attorney General and Department for International Development QBD (Bailii, [2002] EWHC 1122 (QB))
    The claimant was the subject of confidential reports prepared by the defendants which were leaked to newspapers causing him damage. He sought leave to amend his claim to add claims for breach of the Data Protection Act and for public misfeasance. . .
  • Cited – Ziemniak -v- ETPM Deep Sea Ltd CA (Bailii, [2003] EWCA Civ 636, Times 15-May-03)
    A seaman was injured taking part in a safety drill aboard ship. The defendant had been found not to be negligent, but the claimant alleged breach of statutory duty under the Regulations.
    Held: Groves v Wimborne clearly established that . .
  • Applied – Liennard -v- Slough Borough Council QBD ([2002] EWHC 398 (QB), Bailii, HQ 9902793)
    The claimant sought damages from the respondents who had been responsible for his education, for having failed to diagnose his learning difficulties. The school had recognised that he was underachieving, but diagnosis as to the reason was not easy. . .
  • Approved – Phelps -v- Hillingdon London Borough Council; Anderton -v- Clwyd County Council; Gower -v- Bromley London Borough Council; Jarvis -v- Hampshire County Council HL (Times 28-Jul-00, House of Lords, Gazette 31-Aug-00, Bailii, [2000] UKHL 47, [2001] 2 AC 619, [2000] 3 WLR 776, [2000] 4 All ER 504, (2000) 150 NLJ 1198)
    The plaintiffs each complained of negligent decisions in his or her education made by the defendant local authorities. In three of them the Court of Appeal had struck out the plaintiff’s claim and in only one had it been allowed to proceed.
  • Cited – Cullen -v- Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (Northern Ireland) HL (House of Lords, Gazette 18-Sep-03, Bailii, [2003] UKHL 39, [2003] 1 WLR 1763, [2004] 2 All ER 237, [2003] 1 WLR 1763, [2003] NI 375)
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    Held: If damages were . .
  • Cited – Darker -v- Chief Constable of The West Midlands Police HL (Gazette 17-Aug-00, Times 01-Aug-00, House of Lords, Bailii, [2000] UKHL 44, [2001] AC 435, [2000] 3 WLR 747)
    The plaintiffs had been indicted on counts alleging conspiracy to import drugs and conspiracy to forge traveller’s cheques. During the criminal trial it emerged that there had been such inadequate disclosure by the police that the proceedings were . .
  • Cited – JD, MAK and RK, RK and Another -v- East Berkshire Community Health, Dewsbury Health Care NHS Trust and Kirklees Metropolitan Council, Oldham NHS Trust and Dr Blumenthal CA (Bailii, [2003] EWCA Civ 1151, Times 21-Aug-03, [2003] 3 FCR 1, [2003] 4 All E R 796, [2004] QB 558)
    Damages were sought by parents for psychological harm against health authorities for the wrongful diagnosis of differing forms of child abuse. They appealed dismissal of their awards on the grounds that it was not ‘fair just and reasonable’ to . .
  • Cited – Keith Trevor Barrett -v- London Borough of Enfield CA (Times 22-Apr-97, Bailii, [1999] 3 WLR 79, [1997] EWCA Civ 1330)
    A Local Authority is only vicariously liable for the negligence of a social worker to a child in care. . .
  • Cited – Chagos Islanders -v- The Attorney General, Her Majesty’s British Indian Ocean Territory Commissioner QBD ([2003] EWHC 2222 (QB), Bailii, Times 10-Oct-03, [2003] All ER (D) 166)
    The Chagos Islands had been a British dependent territiry since 1814. The British government repatriated the islanders in the 1960s, and the Ilois now sought damages for their wrongful displacement, misfeasance, deceit, negligence and to establish a . .
  • Cited – Commissioners of Customs & Excise -v- Barclays Bank Plc ComC ([2004] EWHC 122 (Comm Court), Bailii, [2004] 1 WLR 2027)
    The claimant had obtained orders against two companies who banked with the respondent. Asset freezing orders were served on the bank, but within a short time the customer used the bank’s Faxpay national service to transfer substantial sums outside . .
  • Cited – A and Another -v- Essex County Council CA (Bailii, [2003] EWCA Civ 1848, Times 22-Jan-04, [2004] 1 WLR 1881)
    The claimant sought damages. The respondent had acted as an adoption agency but had failed to disclose all relevant information about the child.
    Held: Any such duty extended only during the period where the child was with the prospective . .
  • Cited – Binod Sutradhar -v- Natural Environment Research Council CA (Bailii, [2004] EWCA Civ 175, Times 19-Mar-04, Gazette 01-Apr-04)
    The defendant council had carried out research into a water supply in India in the 1980s. The claimant drank the water, and claimed damages for having consumed arsenic in it.
    Held: There is a close link between the tests in law for proximity . .
  • Cited – Three Rivers District Council and Others -v- Governor and Company of The Bank of England HL (Gazette 08-Jun-00, Bailii, [2000] UKHL 331, [2000] 2 WLR 1220, [2000] 3 All ER 1)
    The applicants alleged misfeasance against the Bank of England in respect of the regulation of a bank.
    Held: The Bank could not be sued in negligence, but the tort of misfeasance required clear evidence of misdeeds. The action was now properly . .
  • Cited – AB and others -v- Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust, Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust QBD ([2004] EWHC 644 (QB), Bailii, Times 12-Apr-04, (2004) 77 BMLR 145, [2004] 2 FLR 365, [2004] 3 FCR 324, [2004] Fam Law 501, [2005] 2 WLR 358, [2005] Lloyd’s Rep Med 1, [2005] QB 50)
    Representative claims were made against the respondents, hospitals, pathologists etc with regard to the removal of organs from deceased children without the informed consent of the parents. They claimed under the tort of wrongful interference.
  • Cited – Gorringe -v- Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council HL (HL, [2004] UKHL 15, Bailii, Times 02-Apr-04, [2004] 1 WLR 1057, [2004] RTR 27, [2004] 2 All ER 326)
    The claimant sought damages after a road accident. The driver came over the crest of a hill and hit a bus. The road was not marked with any warning as to the need to slow down.
    Held: The claim failed. The duty could not be extended to include . .
  • Cited – A -v- Ministry of Defence and another QBD (Times 16-May-03, Gazette 03-Jul-03)
    The claimant’s father a member of the armed forces had been posted to Germany, and his wife, A’s mother had gone with him. A had been born in Germany, but suffered injury at birth through the negligence of the doctor’s appointed by the defendant . .
  • Cited – Quark Fishing Ltd, Regina (on the Application Of) -v- Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs Admn (Bailii, [2003] EWHC 1743 (Admin))
    The respondent had failed to renew the claimant’s license to fish in the South Atlantic for Patagonian Toothfish. The refusal had been found to be unlawful. The claimant now sought damages.
    Held: English law does not generally provide a remedy . .
  • Cited – David Lannigan -v- Glasgow City Council OHCS (ScotC, )
    The pursuer said the teachers employed by the defendant had failed to identify that was dyslexic, leading him to suffer damage. The defenders said the claim was time barred, which the pursuer admitted, but then said that the claim ought to go ahead . .
  • Cited – Phelps -v- Hillingdon London Borough Council; Anderton -v- Clwyd County Council; Gower -v- Bromley London Borough Council; Jarvis -v- Hampshire County Council HL (Times 28-Jul-00, House of Lords, Gazette 31-Aug-00, Bailii, [2000] UKHL 47, [2001] 2 AC 619, [2000] 3 WLR 776, [2000] 4 All ER 504, (2000) 150 NLJ 1198)
    The plaintiffs each complained of negligent decisions in his or her education made by the defendant local authorities. In three of them the Court of Appeal had struck out the plaintiff’s claim and in only one had it been allowed to proceed.
  • Cited – Adams -v- Bracknell Forest Borough Council HL (House of Lords, [2004] UKHL 29, Bailii, [2005] 1 AC 76, [2004] 3 WLR 89, [2004] 3 All ER 897)
    A attended the defendant’s schools between 1977 and 1988. He had always experienced difficulties with reading and writing and as an adult found those difficulties to be an impediment in his employment. He believed them to be the cause of the . .
  • Cited – Phelps -v- Hillingdon London Borough Council QBD (Times 10-Oct-97, [1997] 3 FCR 621, [1998] ELR 38)
    An educational psychologist has a professional duty of care to a child when asked to assess for that child for dyslexia, even though the report may be for the local authority. . .
  • Distinguished – Pamela Helen Phelps -v- Mayor and Burgesses London Borough of Hillingdon CA (Times 09-Nov-98, Gazette 25-Nov-98, Bailii, [1998] EWCA Civ 1686, [1999] 1 WLR 500, [1998] ELR 38)
    The plaintiff claimed damages for the negligent failure of an educational psychologist employed by a local authority to identify that the plaintiff was dyslexic.
    Held: An educational psychologist has no duty of care to a child, as opposed to . .
  • Cited – Taylor and Others -v- Director of The Serious Fraud Office and Others HL (Times 04-Nov-98, House of Lords, Bailii, [1998] UKHL 39, [1999] 2 AC 177, [1998] 4 All ER 801, [1998] 3 WLR 1040)
    The defendant had requested the Isle of Man authorities to investigate the part if any taken by the plaintiff in a major fraud. No charges were brought against the plaintiff, but the documents showing suspicion came to be disclosed in the later . .
  • Cited – Barrett -v- London Borough of Enfield HL (Gazette 14-Jul-99, Times 18-Jun-99, House of Lords, Bailii, [2001] 2 AC 550, [1999] UKHL 25, [1999] 3 All ER 193, [1993] 3 WLR 79)
    The claimant had spent his childhood in foster care, and now claimed damages against a local authority for decisions made and not made during that period. The judge’s decision to strike out the claim had been upheld by the Court of Appeal.
  • Cited – Carty -v- London Borough of Croydon CA (Bailii, [2005] EWCA Civ 19, Times 03-Feb-05, [2005] 1 WLR 2312)
    The claimant sought damages in negligence from education officers employed by the respondent. He appealed refusal of his claim. A statement of special education needs had been made which he said did not address his learning difficulties. The . .
  • Cited – JD -v- East Berkshire Community Health NHS Trust and others HL (Bailii, [2005] UKHL 23, House of Lords, [2005] 2 AC 373, Times 22-Apr-05, [2005] 2 WLR 993)
    Parents of children had falsely and negligently been accused of abusing their children. The children sought damages for negligence against the doctors or social workers who had made the statements supporting the actions taken. The House was asked if . .
  • Cited – DS RL -v- Gloucestershire County Council and London Borough of Tower Hamlets and London Borough of Havering CA (Bailii, [2000] EWCA Civ 72, [2001] Fam 313)
    The court considered and restated the criteria for liability set out in X (Minors). . .
  • Cited – Regina -v- Chung Tak Lam Mary Lam Patricia Lam Christopher John Lam and Peter Brennan (T/a ‘Namesakes of Torbay’) and Borough of Torbay CA (Bailii, [1997] EWCA Civ 2247, [1997] PIQR P488)
    The claimant sought damages after the planning authority allowed the first defendant to conduct a manufacturing business in the course of which spraying activities took place which caused them personal injuries and loss of business.
    Held: The . .
  • Cited – Meadow -v- General Medical Council Admn (Bailii, [2006] EWHC 146 (Admin), Times 22-Feb-06, [2006] 1 WLR 1452, (2006) 89 BMLR 143, [2006] Lloyds Rep Med 233, [2006] 1 FLR 1161, [2006] 2 All ER 329, [2006] 2 FCR 777, [2006] ACD 43)
    The appellant challenged being struck off the medical register. He had given expert evidence in a criminal case which was found misleading and to have contributed to a wrongful conviction for murder.
    Held: The evidence though mistaken was . .
  • Cited – HM Customs and Excise -v- Barclays Bank Plc HL (Bailii, [2006] UKHL 28, [2007] 1 AC 181, [2006] 4 All ER 256, [2006] 2 LLR 327, [2006] 3 WLR 1, [2006] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 327, [2006] 1 CLC 1096)
    The claimant had served an asset freezing order on the bank in respect of one of its customers. The bank paid out on a cheque inadvertently as to the order. The Commissioners claimed against the bank in negligence. The bank denied any duty of care. . .
  • Cited – Holland -v- Lampen-Wolfe HL (Gazette 17-Aug-00, House of Lords, Times 27-Jul-00, Gazette 03-Aug-00, Bailii, [2000] 1 WLR 1573, [2000] UKHL 40, [2000] 3 All ER 833)
    The US established a base at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire, and provided educational services through its staff to staff families. The claimant a teacher employed at the base alleged that a report on her was defamatory. The defendant relied on state . .
  • Cited – General Medical Council -v- Professor Sir Roy Meadow, Attorney General CA (Bailii, [2006] EWCA Civ 1390, Times 31-Oct-06, [2007] 2 WLR 286, (2006) 92 BMLR 51, [2007] 1 All ER 1, [2006] 3 FCR 447, [2007] LS Law Medical 1, [2007] Fam Law 214, [2007] ICR 701, [2007] QB 462, 92 BMLR 51, [2007] 1 FLR 1398, [2006] 44 EG 196)
    The GMC appealed against the dismissal of its proceedings for professional misconduct against the respondent doctor, whose expert evidence to a criminal court was the subject of complaint. The doctor said that the evidence given by him was . .
  • Cited – Neil Martin Ltd -v- Revenue and Customs Commissioners (Times 13-Oct-06)
    The claimant sought damages from the revenue for their failure properly to process his claim for a sub-contractor’s certificate which had led to losses.
    Held: The revenue owed no common law duty of care to the claimant and nor were damages . .
  • Cited – Somerville -v- Scottish Ministers HL (Bailii, [2007] UKHL 44, 2007 SC 140, [2007] 1 WLR 2734, 2007 GWD 37-656, 2008 SC (HL) 45, 2007 SLT 1113, [2008] UKHRR 570, (2007) 151 SJLB 1398, [2008] HRLR 3, 2007 SCLR 830)
    The claimants complained of their segregation while in prison. Several preliminary questions were to be decided: whether damages might be payable for breach of a Convention Right; wheher the act of a prison governor was the act of the executive; . .
  • Cited – Jain and Another -v- Trent Strategic Health Authority CA (Bailii, [2007] EWCA Civ 1186, Times )
    The claimant argued that the defendant owed him a duty of care as proprietor of a registered nursing home in cancelling the registration of the home under the 1984 Act. The authority appealed a finding that it owed such a duty.
    Held: The . .
  • Appeal from – Z And Others -v- The United Kingdom ECHR (Times 31-May-01, 29392/95, [2001] 34 EHRR 97, [2001] 2 FLR 612, Bailii, [2001] ECHR 329, Bailii, [2001] ECHR 333, 10 BHRC 384, Bailii, (2002) 34 EHRR 3)
    Four children complained that, for years before they were taken into care by the local authority, its social services department was well aware that they were living in filthy conditions and suffering ‘appalling’ neglect in the home of their . .
  • Cited – Pierce -v- Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council QBD (Bailii, [2007] EWHC 2968 (QB), Times 27-Dec-07)
    The claimant sought damages, saying that the local authority had failed to protect him when he was a child against abuse by his parents.
    Held: The claimant had been known to the authority since he was a young child, and they owed him a duty of . .
  • Cited – Hilda Amoo-Gottfried -v- Legal Aid Board (No 1 Regional Committee) CA (Bailii, [2000] EWCA Civ 301)
    The claimant appealed an order dismissing her claim for misfeasance in public office by the defendant, for the way in which they had mishandled her membership of duty solicitor rota schemes.
    Held: The court discussed the requirements for . .
  • Cited – K -v- Central & North West London Mental Health NHS Trust and Another QBD (Bailii, [2008] EWHC 1217 (QB))
    The claimant appealed an order striking out his claim in negligence. He had leaped from a window in a suicide attempt. The accommodation was provided by the defendant whilst caring for him under the 1983 Act.
    Held: The case should be allowed . .
  • Cited – Welton, Welton -v- North Cornwall District Council CA (Gazette 18-Sep-96, Times 18-Jul-96, Bailii, [1996] EWCA Civ 516, [1997] 1 WLR 570)
    The defendant authority appealed a finding that it was liable in negligence from the conduct of one of its environmental health officers. The plaintiff had set out to refurbish and open a restaurant. He said the officer gave him a list of things he . .
  • Cited – Purdy, Regina (on the Application of) -v- Director of Public Prosecutions and Another QBD (Bailii, [2008] EWHC 2565 (QB), Times)
    The applicant suffered mutiple sclerosis and considered that she might wish to go abroad to end her life. She asked the court to make more clear the guidance provided by the Director as to whether her partner might be prosecuted under section 2(1) . .
  • Cited – Purdy, Regina (on the Application of) -v- Director of Public Prosecutions and Another Admn (Bailii, [2008] EWHC 2565 (Admin), (2008) 104 BMLR 231, [2009] HRLR 7, [2009] UKHRR 94)
    The applicant said that the defendant had unlawfully failed to provide detailed guidance under section 10 of the 1985 Act, on the circumstances under which a prosecution might lie of a person performing acts which might assist another to commit . .
  • Cited – Trent Strategic Health Authority -v- Jain and Another HL (Bailii, [2009] UKHL 4, HL, Times, [2009] WLR (D) 14, WLRD, [2009] 2 WLR 248, (2009) 106 BMLR 88, [2009] HRLR 14, 106 BMLR 88, [2009] 1 All ER 957, (2009) 12 CCL Rep 194, [2009] PTSR 382, [2009] LS Law Medical 112)
    The claimants said that their nursing home business had been effectively destroyed by the actions of the Authority which had applied to revoke their licence without given notice and opportunity to reply. They succeeded on appeal, but the business . .
  • Cited – Purdy, Regina (on the Application of) -v- Director of Public Prosecutions and others CA (Bailii, [2009] EWCA Civ 92, Times, [2009] 1 Cr App R 32, (2009) 159 NLJ 309, [2009] WLR (D) 62, WLRD, (2009) 106 BMLR 170, [2009] UKHRR 1005)
    The claimant suffered a debilitating terminal disease. She anticipated going to commit suicide at a clinic in Switzerland, and wanted first a clear policy so that her husband who might accompany her would know whether he might be prosecuted under . .
  • Cited – Mitchell and Another -v- Glasgow City Council HL (Bailii, [2009] UKHL 11, Times, HL, [2009] WLR (D) 65, WLRD, [2009] 2 WLR 481, 2009 SCLR 270, 2009 SC (HL) 21, 2009 GWD 7-122, 2009 Hous LR 2, [2009] PIQR P13, [2009] NPC 27, [2009] 3 All ER 205, [2009] HRLR 18, 2009 SLT 247)
    (Scotland) The pursuers were the widow and daughter of a tenant of the respondent who had been violently killed by his neighbour. They said that the respondent, knowing of the neighbour’s violent behaviours had a duty of care to the deceased and . .
  • Cited – Farraj and Another -v- King’s Healthcare NHS Trust (KCH) and Another CA (Bailii, [2009] EWCA Civ 1203, (2010) 11 BMLR 131, [2010] PIQR P7, [2010] Med LR 1)
    The claimant parents each carried a gene making any child they bore liable to suffer a serious condition. On a pregnancy the mother’s blood was sent for testing to the defendants who sent it on to the second defendants. The condition was missed, . .
  • Cited – Connor -v- Surrey County Council CA (Bailii, [2010] EWCA Civ 286, Times, [2011] 1 QB 429, [2010] PTSR 1643, [2010] IRLR 521, [2010] 3 All ER 905, [2010] 3 WLR 130, [2010] ELR 363)
    The claimant teacher said that she suffered personal injury from stress after the board of governors improperly failed to protect her from from false complaints. The Council now appealed against an award of substantial damages.
    Held: The . .
  • Cited – Poulton -v- Ministry of Justice CA (Bailii, [2010] EWCA Civ 392)
    The claimant was trustee in bankruptcy but the court failed to register the bankruptcy petition at the Land Registry as a pending action. The bankrupt was therefore able to sell her land, and the trustee did not recover the proceeds. The trustee . .
  • Cited – A E Beckett and Sons (Lyndons) Ltd and Others -v- Midlands Electricity Plc QBD
    The claimants alleged that they had suffered loss as a result of the defendants’ breach of regulation 25(1) of the 1988 Regulations. . .
  • Cited – Morrison Sports Ltd and Others -v- Scottish Power SC (Bailii, [2010] UKSC 37, WLRD, [2010] WLR (D) 202, Bailii Summary, SC, SC Summary, [2010] 1 WLR 1934, 2010 SLT 1027)
    A fire caused substantial damage to buildings. It arose from a ‘shim’ placed in a fuse box which then overheated. The parties disputed whose employee had inserted the shim. The Act under which the Regulations had been made was repealed and replaced . .
  • Cited – Todd -v- Adams & Chope (Trading as Trelawney Fishing Co) (The ‘Margaretha Maria’) CA ([2002] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 293, Bailii, [2002] EWCA Civ 509, [2002] 2 All ER (Comm) 97)
    Where the correctness of a finding of primary fact or of inference is in issue (on appeal), it cannot be a matter of simple discretion how an appellate court approaches the matter. Once the appellant has shown a real prospect (justifying permission . .
  • Cited – Jones -v- Kaney SC (135 Con LR 1, [2011] 2 WLR 823, [2011] BLR 283, [2011] 2 AC 398, [2011] 14 EG 95, [2011] 2 All ER 671, Bailii, [2011] UKSC 13, Bailii Summary, SC Summary, SC, UKSC 2010/0034)
    An expert witness admitted signing a joint report but without agreeing to it. The claimant who had lost his case now pursued her in negligence. The claimant appealed against a finding that the expert witness was immune from action.
    Held: The . .
  • Cited – Samuels -v- Coole and Haddock (a Firm) CA (Bailii, [1997] EWCA Civ 1755, [1997] CLY 4860)
    The defendant solicitors had acted for defendants in an action brought by the plaintiff. They swore and filed an affidavit in support of an application to strike out elements of the action. The affidavit spoke as to abusive and threatening calls and . .
  • Cited – Olutu -v- Home Office CA ([1997] 1 WLR 328, Bailii, [1996] EWCA Civ 1070, [1997] 1 All ER 385)
    The claimant said that she had been detained in excess of the period allowed under the 1987 Regulations, and that that detention was unlawful. She now appealed against the striking out of her claim.
    Held: Her action failed. The availablility . .

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