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Adams v Bracknell Forest Borough Council, Court of Appeal, 6 May 2003

14 May 2003
The issues

Limitation – dyslexia.

The facts

The Claimant had a claim for damages in respect of a failure of the Local Education Authority to provide appropriate education in respect of schools he had attended between 1977 and 1988. The Claimant alleged he had severe dyslexia. Proceedings were issued on the 25th June 2002. The Defendant pleaded limitation. The matter came before the Judge on a preliminary issue.

The Defendant argued that he had not been aware of his condition until 1999, when he had spoken on a social occasion to someone who was an Educational Psychologist. After that, he was diagnosed with severe dyslexia.

The Judge found that the Claimant had been taught at school as a normal child and that he had always managed to conceal his learning problems. He found that the Claimant knew that he suffered from the effects of his problems with reading and writing, but that he did not know whose fault it was until 1999. He found that a reasonable person with undiagnosed dyslexia could not reasonably be expected to seek help for the problems suffered or to conclude himself why he was suffering from them. The Judge therefore found in favour of the Claimant on the issue of date of knowledge.

The Defendant appealed.

The decision

1. The Court of Appeal would not interfere with the Judge’s findings on actual knowledge.

2. The fact that the Claimant could not read and write did not link the injury with the acts and admissions of the Defendant. There were many reasons why the Defendant could not have achieved what he considered he should have done. As to constructive knowledge, the Judge had found that a reasonable person with undiagnosed dyslexia was unlikely to seek help for his problems. Each case however was dependant upon its own facts and each Claimant’s state of knowledge was not the same. The Court was entitled to take into account the effects of inhibitions upon the Claimant when coming to its decision as to the reasonableness of his conduct. The Judge had been entitled to conclude that this Claimant with undiagnosed dyslexia was unlikely to seek help for his problems and that he did not have knowledge until 1999.

Appeal dismissed.

Comments

Now under Appeal to the House of Lords

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