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St William's Group Litigation - Claimants fail to establish liability on appeal

Claimants, in what has been described as one of Britain’s biggest sex abuse compensation claims, have failed to establish liability against a lay religious order providing Brothers to work at a residential institution known as St William’s, Market Weighton. The 150 Claimants failed to establish that the De La Salle Order was vicariously liable for the alleged acts of abusers at St William’s during the period 1965 to 1992.

At a Preliminary Issue Hearing the judge had held that the managers of St William’s, a committee of lay men and women and the employers of all staff, ran the approved school between 1965 and 1973 and therefore were vicariously liable for alleged acts of physical and sexual abuse by staff during this period. He had also held that the Diocese of Middlesbrough’s children’s societies, which became the statutory responsible organisations for St William’s following its change of status to a Community Home in 1973, were vicariously liable for abuse by staff from 1973 until its closure in 1992. In addition, all liabilities of the managers of the approved school were statutorily transferred to these societies.

The Court of Appeal dismissed appeals by the Claimants and the Diocese of Middlesbrough’s children’s societies.

Lord Faulks QC and Alastair Hammerton acted for the De La Salle Order, instructed by Cumberland Ellis LLP.

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