The applicant and her husband had adopted a son. After problems he was taken into care and fostered. The council sought a contribution to the cost of care. The parent requested details as to the circumstances behind the application, and had relayed to them allegations against them. The allegations were withdrawn, and apologised for, but the claimant sought damages. She appealed an order striking out her claim on the basis that the statement was privileged.
Held: The statement was made in the course of a procedure which was short of court proceedings being started. The authority said that its conduct of child care proceedings would be severely hampered if such statements could not be communicated between the parties’ legal representatives. Letters written by a solicitor in the performance of his or her duties to a client of the firm attract qualified privilege. Absolute privilege could not be extended similarly. Appeal allowed.
Times 29-Dec-1997, Gazette 04-Feb-1998,  EWCA Civ 3032,  2 FCR 611,  1 WLR 860,  1 All ER 624,  EMLR 503,  Fam Law 517,  2 FLR 630
Children Act 1989 Sch 2 Part III
England and Wales
Cited – Royal Aquarium and Summer and Winter Garden Society Ltd v Parkinson CA 1892
The court described the characteristics of a tribunal to which absolute privilege attaches. Having spoken of ‘an authorised inquiry which, though not before a court of justice, is before a tribunal which has similar attributes’ and similar . .
Cited – Baker v Carrick 1894
Letters written by a solicitor in the performance of his or her duties to a client of the firm to a person with an appropriate interest in receiving it attract qualified privilege. Publication by a solicitor is protected by qualified privilege if . .
These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 30 April 2021; Ref: scu.143432