Thomson Snell & Passmore advise a multi-academy trust in relation to vexatious complaints and claims made by the parents of a pupil

Thomson Snell & Passmore advised an education trust in relation to a series of increasingly vexatious complaints and claims made by the parents of a pupil.

The pupil was involved in a serious physical altercation with two other pupils, resulting in the pupil being hospitalised. The other pupils were dealt with in accordance with statutory guidance and the trust’s existing policies. The parents were unhappy with the trust’s approach so raised a formal complaint against the trust and issued a wide ranging data subject access request (SAR) on behalf of the pupil.

We advised on the complaint and drafted responses on behalf of the Trust, and advised on nuanced data protection issues arising from the SAR, preparing a response on behalf of the Trust. Both had to be carefully handled due to an on-going police investigation into the incident.

The parents later issued a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office and contacted local media. The firm addressed the Information Commissioner’s Office complaint and the Information Commissioner’s Office concurred with the approach taken by the Trust on the firm’s advice. The firm provided legal advice on the trust’s media strategy. When the parents became abusive towards particular members of staff, the firm advised on steps the trust should take to protect its staff.

The parents have now intimated damages and discrimination claims against the trust, but due to successful management of litigation risk throughout, these claims were disposed of.

The team worked closely with the trust’s governing body and executive team throughout. Due to the array of different claims and complaints brought by the parents, expertise from across teams in the firm was required. Effective co-ordination of the trust’s response across the various claims was critical to limiting litigation risk and the risk of adverse media coverage.

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