A girl left brain damaged after almost drowning during a school swimming lesson has won a landmark ruling allowing her family to seek compensation.
The Supreme Court in London ruled a High Court hearing to determine whether or not Annie Woodland, from Bispham, was the victim of negligence should take place.
Ms Woodland, now 23, was a 10-year-old primary school pupil in Basildon, Essex, when she had to be pulled from the water and resuscitated.
She suffered severe brain damage as a result of which she is now incapable of looking after her own affairs.
Her father Ian launched a claim for compensation on her behalf against Essex County Council and ‘other parties’.
Before yesterday’s decision the family had suffered setbacks to the damages claim with rulings in the High Court and Court of Appeal which blocked action against the county council.
Speaking after yesterday’s decision, Mr Woodland, 50, said: “It has caused enormous damage to our family.
“Up until this ruling, we had seen only injustice.
“I hope that, in the light of this judgement, no other family has to go through the same as we have done.”
Ms Woodland’s mother, Alison Morris, 47, said she was “greatly relieved that justice has been done”
She said: “It should never have come to this in the first place. No child should suffer in this way. This ruling will make such a difference to families in the future.”
In 2000, when the incident happened, Essex County Council organised regular swimming lessons at a local pool owned by Basildon Council. The lessons were contracted out.
It is claimed a lifeguard and swimming teacher negligently failed to notice Ms Woodland had got into difficulties in the pool when the incident happened.
Lawyers acting for Ms Woodland argued the school owed her a duty of care covering all mainstream activities, which applied even where third parties were contracted to provide teaching.