Near drowning court ruling

Annie Woodland, who suffered severe brain damage when she nearly drowned during a school swimming lesson in Essex 13 years ago, won a landmark Supreme Court ruling today in her battle for compensation against a local education authority.

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Pool trauma woman can pursue payout

A woman who nearly drowned during a school swimming lesson 13 years ago has won a landmark ruling from the UK's highest court which paves the way for her to pursue compensation from a local education authority.

Annie Woodland was a pupil at Whitmore Junior School in Basildon, Essex, when she had to be pulled from the water and resuscitated at Gloucester Park pool in July 2000.

Ms Woodland, now in her 20s and living with her family in Blackpool, 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 the local education authority, Essex County Council, and other parties.

To date the family has suffered setbacks to the damages claim with rulings in the High Court and Court of Appeal which blocked her action against the county council.

In October 2011 a High Court judge threw out Ms Woodland's claim against Essex on the basis that it was bound to fail, and in March last year his view was backed in a majority ruling by Court of Appeal judges.

But today, Supreme Court justices in London allowed her appeal against those findings which means that there will now be a High Court hearing to determine whether or not she was the victim of negligence.

Five justices unanimously allowed the appeal and ruled that the local authority owed a "non-delegable duty of care".

Lawyers acting for Ms Woodland said before the ruling that the Supreme Court's decision was "anxiously anticipated by parents and local education authorities alike".

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