Accidents in schools—liability in tort
Produced in partnership with Nicholas Hancox of Nicholas Hancox Solicitors Ltd and Christopher McFarland of Sinclairs Law
Accidents in schools—liability in tort

The following Local Government guidance note Produced in partnership with Nicholas Hancox of Nicholas Hancox Solicitors Ltd and Christopher McFarland of Sinclairs Law provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Accidents in schools—liability in tort
  • Accidents happen in schools
  • The Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Act 2015 (SARHA 2015)
  • A duty of care owed by the defendant to the claimant
  • Vicarious liability for the acts of others
  • Contributory negligence
  • Foreseeable consequences of the action or omission of the defendant
  • Causation and proximity—the injury being clearly and closely related to or caused by an act or omission of the defendant
  • The age, disposition and mental capacity of the child
  • Pupils injuring each other: the level of supervision expected in a school
  • more

Accidents happen in schools

Children are often injured without any fault on the part of any person. They are by definition young and inexperienced. Equally, they cannot expect to go through life without taking any risks and when they do take a risk, often (through inexperience of life) unknowingly or underestimating the level of risk, sometimes they will be injured. Accidents do happen and 'not every misfortune occurring on school premises attracts compensation', according to the Court of Appeal in Richards v Bromley.

The law reports are full of cases where injuries have been sustained by a child and what distinguishes a successful claim against a school (or its owners) from an unsuccessful claim is the presence and impact of the following factors:

  1. a duty of care

  2. whether the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Act 2015 (SARHA 2015) has any impact in assessing whether there has been negligence or breach of statutory duty (only since 13 April 2015)

  3. vicarious liability

  4. contributory negligence

  5. foreseeable consequences

  6. causation and proximity

  7. the age, disposition and mental capacity of the child

  8. pupils injuring each other: the level of supervision expected in a school

  9. the extent to which the child was at the material time under the care or control of the school

The following reported cases illustrate the impact of these principles of the law