Davis v West Sussex County Council  EWHC 2152 (QB),  MHLO 83
At a safeguarding vulnerable adults case conference the local authority determined that certain allegations of abuse at a care home were substantiated or inconclusive, made recommendations, and decided to refer three members of staff to their professional bodies. The claimants sought judicial review of the decisions (and of a subsequent Default Notice, although this was not pursued). (1) The local authority's procedure was unfair, in breach of the rules of natural justice, its own guidance (based on government guidance), and legitimate expectations - a precis cannot do justice to how disgraceful the procedure was. (2) Two defences, arguing that no public law rights arose, failed: (a) there was no respect in which the duty to protect vulnerable adults conflicted with the less pressing obligation to treat other parties affected in a just manner; (b) there was a sufficient public flavour to make the process of investigation and decision a public function distinct from the contractual relationship. (3) The defendant's arguments that no remedy should follow failed: in particular, because the decisions were unfair, inconsistent with or unsupported by the findings of external bodies, and had a serious continuing impact on the claimants and their residents and staff, and because the defendant showed an inability to recognise, even in hindsight, some basic requirements of fairness.
Hearing: 26/6/12 to 28/6/12
Before: HHJ Mackie QC
Mr Mathew Purchase (instructed by David Collins Solicitors) for the Claimants
Mr Bryan McGuire QC (instructed by West Sussex Legal) for the Defendant