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

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”

Court: HL
Date: 29-Jun-1995
Judges: Lord Browne-Wilkinson, Sir Thomas Bingham MR
Links: Independent, Times, Bailii,
References: [1995] 2 AC 633, [1995] UKHL 9, [1995] 2 FLR 276, [1995] 3 All ER 353, [1995] 3 WLR 152, [1995] 3 FCR 337
Cases Cited:
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