X and Another v London Borough of Hounslow: CA 2 Apr 2009

The authority appealed against an order finding it responsible for failing to prevent a serious assault on the claimants by local youths. Both claimants were known to the appellants to have had very low IQs.
Held: a local authority’s social services and housing departments had not assumed a responsibility to protect vulnerable council tenants and their children from harm inflicted by third parties. The case was not one of assumption of responsibility unless the assumption of responsibility could properly be held to be voluntary. That was because ‘a public authority will not be held to have assumed a common law duty merely by doing what the statute requires or what it has power to do under a statute, at any rate unless the duty arises out of the relationship created as a result, such as in Lord Hoffmann’s example [in Gorringe . .] of the doctor patient relationship.’ Since the claimants’ case amounted to no more than that the council had failed to move them into temporary accommodation in breach of its statutory duty or in the exercise of its statutory powers, it failed because none of the statutory provisions relied on gave rise to a private law cause of action.


Sir Anthony Clarke Mr
Lord Justice Tuckey
Lord Justice Goldring


[2009] EWCA Civ 286, [2009] Fam Law 487, [2009] NPC 63, [2010] HLR 4, [2009] 2 FLR 262, [2009] PTSR 1158, [2009] 3 FCR 266, (2009) 12 CCL Rep 254




England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedPoole Borough Council v GN and Another SC 6-Jun-2019
This appeal is concerned with the liability of a local authority for what is alleged to have been a negligent failure to exercise its social services functions so as to protect children from harm caused by third parties. The principal question of . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Local Government, Personal Injury

Updated: 11 February 2022; Ref: scu.329549