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Bradford-Smart v West Sussex County Council, Queen's Bench Division, 8 November 2000

6 December 2000
The issues

School’s duty to prevent bullying – limits of that duty – whether it extends to beyond the school gates.

The facts

The Claimant had been bullied between the ages of 9 and 12 whilst a pupil at a primary school to which the Defendant Council was responsible. The bullying had occurred on an estate where the Claimant lived and on the school bus.

The decision

Teachers had “a duty to exercise the skill and care of a reasonable teacher on the basis of what would have been acceptable to reasonable members of the teaching profession” (see Phelps v Hillingdon London Borough Council).

Whether there was as duty depended on foreseabilty, proximity and the fair, just and reasonable test. See Caparo Industries Plc v Dickman.

It was not practical let alone fair, just and reasonable to impose upon a school a greater duty than to take reasonable steps to prevent bullying spilling over into school. It was not reasonable to expect a school to be responsible for activities whilst on the journey to and from school even if the school was on notice. The duty was to “take defensive measures”. If the school chose to be proactive that was a matter of discretion not obligation.

Claim dismissed.

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