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Bryn Alyn Court of Appeal Decision

Posted on: November 3, 2006

The Court of Appeal has today given judgement in KR & Others – v – Royal and Sun Alliance PLC, liability of an insurance company for child abuse at its insured’s Children’s Homes.

The Claimants were, during childhood, resident within Children’s Homes owned and operated by Bryn Alyn Community (Holdings) Limited (‘Bryn Alyn’), in North Wales. The Claimants previously brought proceedings against Bryn Alyn and were successful; compensation was awarded. At the time of judgement Bryn Alyn was in liquidation and could not satisfy the judgements. The Claimants therefore brought proceedings under the Third Parties (Rights Against Insurers) Act 1930 against the Public Liability Insurers during the material times, Royal and Sun Alliance Plc.

The insurance cover provided by Royal and Sun Alliance Plc from August 1976 onwards included cover for bodily injury to any person. However, the policy excluded liability for injury or damage resulting from any deliberate act or omission of the insured. In 1981 the wording of the exclusion clause was extended to cover such liability for injury or damage resulting from any deliberate act or omission on the part of the insured’s directors or managerial employees.

The High Court in Jan 2006 ruled in favour of the Claimants and said that Royal & Sun Alliance could not rely on the exclusion clauses contained within the policy insurance; the Claimants had succeeded in a claim of systemic negligence and not on the basis of the assaults themselves.

The Defendants appealed the High Court ruling. The Appeal Court today gave its judgement on the case and ruled that Royal and Sun Alliance Plc were not liable for the damage or injury caused by the deliberate acts of abuse of the person who was to be regarded as the company; John Allen. As such, the deliberate acts of John Allen fell to be attributed to the company and therefore Royal and Sun Alliance were not liable for those acts. Furthermore, following the extension of the exclusion clause in 1981 Royal and Sun Alliance were not liable for those acts of abuse committed by directors or the heads of individual homes as these were “managerial employees” and excluded by the policy. The Defendants could not, however, escape liability for the acts of other abusers.

John Ernest Allen was the founding member of the Bryn Alyn Community. In April 1969 John Allen opened a Children’s Home at Bryn Alyn with his future wife, Norma Allen, his parents and his uncle, Thomas Askew. In 1972 the private limited company, Bryn Alyn Community Limited, was formed.

Bryn Alyn was made up of a number of establishments such as Askew House, Blackley House, Lindisfarne, 26 Talbot Road, Wrexham; Pentre Saeson Hall, Bwlchgwyn; Bryntirion Hall, Caergwrle; Gatewen Hall, Wrexham

Until his retirement in 1990 John Allen was the majority shareholder in the Company and the Chief Executive. In 1995 John Ernest Allen was convicted on counts of sexually abusing children.

In 1999 the findings of the Tribunal of Inquiry into child abuse in North Wales was published; the Inquiry was chaired by Sir Ronald Waterhouse. Amongst other institutions such as Care Concern International and Clwyd Hall for Child Welfare the Bryn Alyn Homes were part of the inquiry. The inquiry found widespread sexual, physical and emotional abuse had taken place within the Bryn Alyn Community.

The Claimant’s solicitor, Billhar Uppal, of Uppal Taylor Solicitors, Nottingham said that after a 10 year battle it is a bitter pill to swallow “The effect of the judgement and its ramifications in terms of childcare is very serious” he stated “John Allen is free now but his victims will never be”.

Uppal Taylor Solicitors are specialist child abuse solicitors. If you wish to speak with a solicitor in the strictest of confidence please call 0115 982 0770.

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