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Vaile v London Borough of Havering [2011] EWCA Civ 246 (11 March 2011)


Local Education Authority Liable In Negligence In Respect Of An Assault By Pupil On Teacher:The Court of Appeal allowed the appellant former teacher's appeal against a decision dismissing her claim against the respondent for damages for personal injuries sustained in an assault by a pupil. The trial judge had found that the respondent had: (a) failed to identify the pupil as suffering from an autistic spectrum disorder; (b) failed to implement TEACCH or equivalent procedures for dealing with pupils with ASD and consequent learning difficulties; and (c) failed to implement properly the system of statementing the pupil's special needs. However, the judge rejected the claim on grounds that there was no evidence that the educational provision made for the pupil was inadequate or that the respondent had failed to provide a safe system of work and that such failure had caused her injury. The Court of appeal held that the judge's primary findings of fact should have led him to draw the obvious conclusion that the respondent had failed to provide the appellant with a safe system of work. As to causation, the Court of Appeal held that whilst it was difficult for the appellant to show precisely what she or the school could have done to avoid the incident if she had been appropriately instructed in techniques for dealing with pupils with ASD, the probability was that if proper care had been taken by the respondent, she would not have met with the injury she did.