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Unrelated adults and unaccompanied children: obligations, risks and responsibilities [2013] CFLQ 159

Date:21 MAR 2013

Keywords: Responsibilities to children - individualisation of responsibility - obligations to unrelated children - capacity, knowledge and understanding

This article considers recent claims for compensatory damages brought on behalf of children against the occupiers of premises upon which they have sustained severe injuries. It identifies a shift within the case-law from analysis of the steps required to take reasonable care to protect the child from harm to the allocation of responsibility for the injuries to the chosen act of the child. These developments are consistent with the trend in which children have increasingly been seen as the responsibility of their parents; and consequently responsibilities for the safety of unaccompanied children are not imposed upon unrelated adults. The implications of the individualisation of responsibility are particularly problematic in circumstances where children may lack information, knowledge or experience about risks. This article argues that the law must enforce the duty to take reasonable care to protect children from harm recognising their particular needs as they develop their independence.

The full version of this article appears in issue 1 of 2013 of Child and Family Law Quarterly.

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