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