Switalskis wins first-of-its-kind financial assessment case

Switalskis Solicitors has won a first-of-its-kind case that saw a local authority back down on its refusal to carry out a financial assessment of a personal injury claimant who had been awarded damages.

St Helens Council refused to conduct a financial assessment for the claimant, known as P, on the basis that a seven-figure personal injury compensation award administered by the Court of Protection meant he had sufficient funds to pay for his care.

A week before the two-day hearing for a judicial review was due to take place in Birmingham before Justice Garnham, St Helens Council conceded and agreed to conduct a needs assessment and the financial assessment, disregarding P’s damages award.

The case—the first of its kind in the country to be brought under the Care Act—follows a Court of Appeal ruling concerning the Mental Health Act in November 2017, in which a Manchester council’s appeal against having to provide mental health aftercare services to a man who had been awarded £3.5 million in personal injury damages was dismissed.

Caroline Hurst (pictured), chartered legal executive in the Court of Protection department at Switalskis, which acted for P, commented: “This issue of ‘double recovery’ is an important one. We know that people with lump sum personal injury or clinical negligence awards administered by the Court of Protection are being told by some local authorities that they must pay for their care in full, when in fact this is not the case.”

Alex Guy, a Court of Protection deputy at Switalskis, added: “There will be a lot of people out there paying for their care when they shouldn’t be, or should only be making a contribution. There will undoubtedly also be many financial deputies in this situation who aren’t aware of what local authorities should and shouldn’t be doing.”

“There is an array of case and statute law confirming that local authorities should not take personal injury awards into account when assessing care needs and provision. This case further cements that principle.”