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27 July 2022

Bindmans represents clients in successful claim against Suffolk County Council in Court of Appeal

3 mins

Bindmans represents clients in successful claim against Suffolk County Council in Court of Appeal

Bindmans LLP has represented two brothers in a successful claim against Suffolk County Council. The brothers were represented by community care specialists from within the Bindmans Education Law team.

Both brothers, who are autistic, had been receiving care and support from the local authority which included payments to allow them to go on holiday and engage in recreational activities. This was to benefit their health and wellbeing, and it had worked well for some years. Unfortunately, Suffolk County Council suddenly ended the funding, wrongly claiming that they had never had the legal power to fund recreational activities in the first place, and denying that the brothers had any care needs to fund.

The team’s clients were left with no alternative but to challenge this decision, and were successful in the High Court. Suffolk County Council then appealed to the Court of Appeal, which handed down its judgment on 26 July 2022. 

Karen May, Partner and Head of Education Law at Bindmans comments:

We are delighted that the Court has rejected the appeal in its entirety, in a wide-ranging judgment that sets an important precedent for the thousands of disabled people nationwide who rely on the state to maintain their health and wellbeing in a way that is flexible, and that accounts for their particular needs.

Giving the lead judgment, Lady Justice Nicola Davies said that:

Consistent with the greater emphasis placed upon the autonomy of the individual linked to wellbeing and support, I read the intention of the legislation as being to broaden the discretion and flexibility of local authorities in their provision of care and support to adults.

In dismissing the local authority’s argument that they did not have the legal power to fund recreational activities, the Court said it does ‘not accept that it is possible to use recreational facilities merely by the provision of support to access the facility if the adult in question cannot afford to pay for the entry requirements.’

This is hugely important to people in our client’s position. People’s additional needs exist in a myriad of ways, and it is vital that local authorities can respond to each person with flexibility and discretion, to properly support people to live their lives to their full potential. In our client’s case, recreational activities were more than just a nice thing to have, they were fundamental to their wellbeing. They could not access the community in the same way without the local authority providing support, which lead to a decline in their wellbeing. In making this point, the Court said ‘the core purpose of this provision of adult social care and support as set out in the CA 2014 is to help individuals to achieve outcomes which matter to them in the life which they lead.’

The Claimants hope now that Suffolk County Council accept the Court’s clear decision, and that the vital support they depend on will be reinstated without further delays.

The two brothers were represented by Karen May, Alex Temple, and paralegal Louise Plumstead of Bindmans LLP, along with Davild Wolfe QC of Matrix Chambers and Catherine Rowlands of Cornerstone Chambers. 

The full judgment can be seen here,

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