Vaile v. London Borough of Havering – (Brain Injury)


Practice Areas

Personal Injury

Cases Citation

[2011] EWCA Civ 246

Court of Appeal judgment on breach of duty and causation appeal in assault case

Andrew Prynne QC and Marcus Grant appeared for the Appellant, a special needs teacher assaulted by a 14-year-old pupil on the ASD spectrum. The Respondent, through its headmaster, engaged in a cover-up by fabricating documentary evidence and giving perjured oral evidence in Court, in an attempt to protect itself from criticism that it had not devised and maintained a safe system of work for the Appellant. The Court of Appeal described this conduct as ‘reprehensible’. The Court below found that despite the cover-up, the Claimant failed to establish either a breach of duty or causation. The Court of Appeal overturned both findings. It found that on the Judge’s own primary factual findings there had been a breach of duty. Furthermore, whilst it was difficult for the Claimant to show precisely what the school should have done to avoid the assault, such difficulty did not automatically mean that her claim should fail. There was sufficient evidence to establish on a balance of probability, that but for the multiple breaches in the Respondent’s duty of care to her, she would not have sustained injuries in the assault. Costs of the liability trial were awarded on the indemnity basis.

Related Barristers

Andrew Prynne QC

Andrew Prynne QC
Year of Call: 1975
Year of Silk: 1995

Marcus Grant

Marcus Grant
Year of Call: 1993

Close X

Coronavirus Update

TGC continues proactively to safeguard against the risks posed by the spread of Coronavirus. We have a Covid-19 Committee who continue to monitor the situation and follow advice issued by the Government and Public Health England. We will be updating this page as and when new information becomes available. As of 6 July 2020, our London premises, 1 Harcourt Buildings, will be operating with a reduced clerking team in attendance. The remaining staff members and barristers will continue working remotely. We wish to reassure everyone that our contingency plans enable us to continue to provide our services.

Telephoning us

When calling our switchboard number, it will be diverted to a member of the clerking team who will be able to assist in the usual way. All direct dials in Chambers are diverted to be answered remotely.

Emailing us & Sending Instructions

Please send all instructions via email directly to We would be grateful if this could be sent in an orderly fashion to enable working from a screen manageable. We are able to receive hard copy instructions via DX or Post, if necessary. However, we have a preference for electronic documents wherever possible.

Please continue to communicate with barristers directly via phone or email.

Conferences, Joint Settlement Meetings & Mediations

Conferences, meetings and mediations will take place remotely, either by telephone or video until further notice. Group Telephone calls and video calls can be easily arranged. If an in-person meeting is felt necessary please see our Covid-19 Information page for full criteria.

Court Hearings

We are following the Government’s advice closely, which is changing daily. In keeping with that advice, we will continue to service hearings remotely, where possible and as instructed by the hosting Court. In-Person hearings will be accommodated by members of TGC. We will continue to monitor this situation.

Making a payment

If you do not already pay us by BACS, going forward please make arrangements to do so. Please contact the clerks who can supply you with the relevant BACS details.

If you wish to discuss our policy and procedure relating to coronavirus, please do not hesitate to contact our senior clerk Dean Norton on 07535 753098 or

To learn more visit our Covid-19 Information page.