The section made it an offence for anyone having care of a child to wilfully neglect the child ‘in a manner likely to cause him unnecessary suffering or injury to health’.
Held: The section speaks of an act or omission that is ‘likely’ to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health. This word is imprecise. It is capable of covering a whole range of possibilities from ‘it’s on the cards’ to ‘it’s more probable than not’, but having regard to the ordinary parent’s lack of skill in diagnosis and to the very serious consequences which may result from failure to provide a child with timely medical attention, it should be understood as excluding only what would fairly be described as highly unlikely.
Lord Diplock: ‘To ‘neglect’ a child is to omit to act, to fail to provide adequately for its needs; and, in the context of section 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, its physical needs rather than its spiritual, educational, moral or emotional needs. These are dealt with by other legislation.’
 AC 394
Children and Young Persons Act 1933 1
England and Wales
Doubted – Oakey v Jackson 1914
Doubted – Regina v Wills CACD 1990
The words of a statute must be construed in their context but the interpretation of ‘likely’ [in Sheppard] seems very strained. If it only excludes what is ‘highly unlikely’ it includes what is merely ‘unlikely’; ie, the result is ‘likely’ to occur . .
Cited – Cream Holdings Limited and others v Banerjee and The Liverpool Daily Post and Echo Limited CA 13-Feb-2003
The defendants considered publication of alleged financial irregularities by the claimant, who sought to restrain publication. The defendants argued that under the Act, prior restraint should not be used unless a later court would be likely to . .
Cited – Attorney General’s Reference (No 3 of 2003) CACD 7-Apr-2004
Police Officers had been acquitted of misconduct in public office. They had stood by in a police station custody suite as a prisoner lay on the floor and died.
Held: The trial took place before R -v- G which had overruled Caldwell. The . .
Cited – In Re A (Minors) (Conjoined Twins: Medical Treatment); aka In re A (Children) (Conjoined Twins: Surgical Separation) CA 22-Sep-2000
Twins were conjoined (Siamese). Medically, both could not survive, and one was dependent upon the vital organs of the other. Doctors applied for permission to separate the twins which would be followed by the inevitable death of one of them. The . .
Cited – L, Regina (on the Application of) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis Admn 19-Mar-2006
The court considered the duties on the respondent in providing an enhanced criminal record certificate. In one case, the claimant had brought up her son who was made subject to child protection procedures for neglect. Her job involved supervising . .
These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 12 May 2021; Ref: scu.182932