How far does the duty of care go when your children go swimming with their school?
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In this particular case there were five potential Defendants, one of whom was the local authority responsible for Annie's school. The problem was, however, that the swimming lesson in question took place at a pool located in a different local authority and was arranged and supervised by other third parties, totally out of the sight and control of the school's local authority.
Annie's lawyers argued that the school's local authority had a duty to Annie which they could not delegate to others. The Court did not agree. Annie's lawyers appealed against this decision. The matter has now been heard at the Court of Appeal who agreed with previous findings. The Appeal was dismissed.
The imposition of a duty extending to the actions of the swimming lesson organisers, the lifeguard and/or swimming teacher, would have significant implications. A ruling such as this would impact on not just education authorities, but schools, hospitals and perhaps all those loosely connected with providing education and healthcare.
The school's local authority were not responsible for Annie's dreadful accident, nor did they have any control the over the swimming lessons that were taking place.
The Courts look carefully when considering such matters. It is clearly a distressing and sensitive issue, but the Courts have to consider all issues in forming their judgment. The last thing that any of us want is for our schools to withdraw the fun and excitement that our children experience, not to mention to chance of learning to swim, just because our schools are nervous of being sued for matters totally out of their control.
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