W 1-6 v Essex County Council and Another: CA 2 Apr 1998

A Local Authority had a duty of care to a fostering family when allocating children. A child was known to have a history of sexual abuse and was fostered with a family with other children, and no warning had been given.
Foster parents sued the council for breach of contract and for alleged negligence for breach of duty of care.
Held: There was no contractual relationship between the foster parents and the local authority. ‘although the Specialist Foster Carer Agreement had a number of features which one would expect to find in a contract, such as the payment of an allowance and expenses, provisions as to National Insurance, termination and restriction on receiving a legacy or engaging in other gainful employment and other matters to which the judge referred… I do not accept that this makes the agreement a contract in the circumstances of this case. A contract is essentially an agreement that is freely entered into on terms that are freely negotiated. If there is a statutory obligation to enter into a form of agreement the terms of which are laid down, at any rate in their most important respects, there is no contract’


Times 09-Apr-1998, Gazette 20-May-1998, [1998] 3 WLR 534, [1998] EWCA Civ 614, [1998] 3 All ER 111




Race Relations Act 1976


England and Wales


CitedNorweb Plc v Dixon QBD 24-Feb-1995
Electric supply was not made under a contract properly so called, and no offence was committed of harassment for payment. If there is a statutory obligation to enter into a form of agreement the terms of which are laid down, at any rate in their . .
Appeal fromW and Others v Essex County Council and Another QBD 16-Jul-1997
A social worker has a duty of care to inform prospective foster parents of the information which a reasonable social worker would provide. . .

Cited by:

CitedRowlands v City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council CA 26-Mar-1999
The defendant appealed a finding of the EAT that the claimant had standing to claim discrimination under the Act in the way her application to be a foster mother had been treated.
Held: After the EAT decision in W v Essex, it was clear that . .
Appeal fromW v Essex County Council and Another HL 17-Mar-2000
A foster child was placed with a family. The child had a history of abusing other children, but the foster parents, who had other children were not told. The foster child caused psychiatric damage to the carers.
Held: It was wrong to strike . .
CitedBullock v Norfolk County Council EAT 24-Jan-2011
The Employment Tribunal did not err in holding that the Claimant, a foster carer, was not a worker within the meaning of the Employment Rights Act 1996 and 1999. Accordingly she . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Negligence, Local Government, Employment

Updated: 30 May 2022; Ref: scu.144092