A public authority can assume responsibility towards someone by inference from its conduct towards them, as Laurence Toczek explains following the Supreme Court’s re-evaluation of the Caparo test

The Supreme Court has established the correct approach to the duty of care in claims against public bodies. In June 2019, judgment was delivered in Poole Borough Council (Respondent) v GN and another (Appellants) [2019] UKSC 25.


The respondent council placed the claimants and their mother in a house on an estate adjacent to another family who, to the council’s knowledge, had persistently engaged in antisocial behaviour. The claimants were nine and seven years old at the time.

The nine-year-old was severely disabled both mentally and physically. Soon after they moved in, the claimants and their mother were subjected to harassment and abuse by the neighbouring family.

Despite ...

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