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Sarah is a Partner in our award-winning abuse team. She specialises in defending complex historic and recent abuse claims on behalf of local authorities and other public organisations including the police, charities and non-profit organisations. Her caseload ranges from stand-alone cases to large, high value multi-party group actions.
Since the late 1990s, Sarah has managed and been involved in some of the most complex and high-profile abuse cases in the country, including the North Wales group action on behalf of the 2 most prominent local authorities and an approved school; also another large local authority children’s homes group action, which concerned abuse in over 20 establishments spanning more than a 10 year period.
Sarah specialises in group actions and also more complex failure to remove/protect claims. She was involved in a successful high profile reported defence of a failure to remove claim for a local authority which decided the standards test that social workers/local authorities should meet – TF v Lewisham. This test remains. Sarah also defends cases involving foster placements/children’s homes/schools/abuse at pre-school facilities/approved schools and cases concerning vulnerable adults. She has also lead complex claims involving inappropriate and abusive “pindown” type therapy for a private childcare provider.
Sarah is regularly instructed in relation to claims involving misfeasance in public office and also under the Human Rights Act 1998. She also advises on safeguarding issues and procedure.
Currently, Sarah leads the largest group action in the country concerning complex and emotive claims of Child Sexual Exploitation against a local authority and police force, acting on behalf of the police. She provides advice, assistance and training to other forces in relation to CSE and her dual experience with both public organisations assists greatly in this regard.
She is also handling numerous complex failure to remove and CSE claims on behalf of a number of local authorities either by direct instruction or via insurers.
Legal 500 United Kingdom Recommended Lawyer – Sarah is …a ‘very experienced litigator who identifies the issues at an early stage and is able to get the best outcome for her clients either through settlement or where the claim has merit by taking the case to trial’.
Sarah is a member of the FOIL Public Sector Focus team.
Latest Insights by Sarah Swan
Client Alerts 01/06/2021
Following our article last week on DFX & Others v Coventry City Council, another judgment on failure to remove has been handed down with YXA v Wolverhampton.
Client Alerts 26/05/2021
Abuse lawyers have been waiting for further guidance and clarification from the court since the judgment of CN & GN v Poole in June 2019. Whilst not a typical failure to remove case, Poole determined that local authorities do not have a duty of care to protect children who are not formally in care save for three exceptions.
Client Alerts 17/12/2020
County Lines activity has increased significantly during 2020, coinciding with the lockdown in March and continuing on an upward trend. This may be due to logistical difficulties faced by social services, the police, schools and other agencies in reaching, reporting and protecting vulnerable children.
Client Alerts 07/09/2020
Public Sector organisations are bracing themselves for a future raft of civil claims involving alleged failure to protect and failure to remove children from abusive environments and perpetrators during the recent period of lockdown due to COVID-19.
In addition to the government providing £30 million last year to tackle the offenders of child sexual exploitation and to safeguard victims, the Home Secretary recently announced that the government are investigating child sexual exploitation by groups of perpetrators in order that vulnerable children can be better safeguarded.
Client Alerts 07/06/2019
On 6 June 2019 the Supreme Court handed down its long awaited judgment in CN v Poole, unanimously dismissing the claimants’ appeal.