0370 270 6000

already registered?

Please sign in with your existing account details.

need to register?

Register to access exclusive content, sign up to receive our updates and personalise your experience on brownejacobson.com.

Privacy statement - Terms and conditions

Forgotten your password?

Mayor & Burgesses of Islington London Borough v University College London Hospital NHS Trust, High Court, 23 July 2004

17 August 2004
The issues

Care – Recovery of Care Costs by Local Authority from Tort Feasor

The facts

Mrs J suffered a stroke whilst in the care of Middlesex Hospital. By its defence the hospital trust admitted that the stroke was caused by its negligence. A structured settlement of her claim was entered into on 28th September 2003. Until that date she had been cared for by the Claimant local authority in residential care under Section 21 of the National Assistance Act 1948. The structured settlement enabled Mrs J’s daughter to buy her a house in which to care for her together with the sum of £40,000.00 per year payable as long as she remained in the care of her daughter.

The cost of care caring for Mrs J to the local authority was £81,210.94. The local authority were under a statutory duty to charge Mrs J for the care provided to her or to assess her ability to pay for that care. In so doing they were bound in law to disregard the compensation under the settlement for the purpose of calculating her liability. As a result she could not recover the care costs from the Defendant because she was not herself liable to pay them. She suffered no loss resulting from these care costs and made no claim in her proceedings for those costs. The local authority asserted that the Trust had escaped liability to pay because her means were such that she had to rely on local authority care. They sought to recover the care costs from the Defendant in negligence.

The decision

1. The claim was for pure economic loss unrelated to any damage to property.

2. It was common ground that in order to establish a duty, the Defendant had to show foreseeability of the loss coupled with the necessary degree of proximity between the parties and moreover that in all the circumstances it was fair, just and reasonable for a duty to be imposed in respect of the economic loss.

3. As to foreseeability the Judge noted that there were a series of “layers” of foreseeability. At the time of breach of duty it was foreseeable that as a result of the breach Mrs J would suffer a stroke; as a result of the stroke it was probably foreseeable that she would require care; it was foreseeable that in respect of that care it might have to be provided by the local authority but equally it was possible that the care would be provided at home or in a private nursing home; the next question was whether if the local authority provided care, Mrs J would be able to pay for it. This seemed an impossible question for the Trust to answer at the time. The answer was clearly that the hospital Trust had no sufficient knowledge or means of knowledge and it was not reasonably foreseeable that the local authority might suffer damage as well.

4. As to proximity, there was no relationship between the hospital trust and the local authority at all at the time of the advice. They were not aware of each other in the context of Mrs J and were not brought in to a proximity relationship by reason of the fact that the local authority were the statutory care providers for Mrs J if she made an application to them.

5. Strictly it was not necessary to provide a view as to whether it was fair, just and reasonable to impose a duty given the failures of the Claimant on the issues of foreseeability and proximity. The Claimant had argued that there was a lacuna in the law which needed to be filled by the Courts. It did not appear to the Judge that there was any unjust situation calling for remedy. Parliament had set up a statutory scheme and had chosen in this case not to intervene to give assistance to the authority.

Focus on...

Legal updates

Gosden and another v Halliwell Landau and another [2021] EWHC 159 (Comm)

This claim addressed the question, of when the date for assessment of damages in cases of negligence should be determined and shows that when appropriate the Courts will depart from the default position.


Legal updates

Assessing the scope of employers liability – Chell v Tarmac

These were the opening remarks of Mr Justice Martin Spencer when handing down his Judgment in the recent case of Andrew Chell v Tarmac Cement and Lime Limited [2020] EWHC 2613, the latest in a series of appeals dealing with the scope of vicarious liability.


Legal updates

Non-payment of insurance premiums during the Coronavirus pandemic

The forced closure of many businesses as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Recent reports from the Office for National Statistics state that the economy was 25% smaller in April than it was in February this year.


Legal updates

Reinstatement for property damage losses – when does it apply?

The Court of Appeal has recently considered the correct test for measuring the indemnity for property damage losses and has provided useful guidance on whether an insured needs to intend to reinstate the property to its pre-loss condition.


The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

Mailing list sign up

Select which mailings you would like to receive from us.

Sign up