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A young child is not entitled to criminal injuries compensation after her mother drank excessively while pregnant, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
Three appeal judges unanimously ruled that a mother who is pregnant and who drinks to excess "despite knowledge of of the potential harmful consequence to the child" who is "born damaged as a result" is not guilty of a criminal offence under British law.
Judges were told that the mother drank an "an enormous amount" while pregnant including a half-bottle of vodka and eight cans of strong lager a day, leading to the child being born with an alcohol-related disease.
A local authority in North West England had fought the compensation battle on behalf of the child, now aged seven, who suffers with learning, development, memory and behaviour problems.
If the appeal had succeeded it could have led to pregnant women's behaviour being criminalised, according to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas) and Birthrights.
Bpas welcomed the verdict saying it was an "extremely important ruling" for women who "must be able to make their own decisions about their pregnancies."
Judges are expected to hand down their verdict in a landmark case in which a council are seeking compensation from the mother of a child with foetal alcohol syndrome.
The council, believed to be in the North West of England, say the mother drank enormous amounts of alcohol while pregnant which is tantamount to a crime of violence.
The Court of Appeal is expected to rule in the case later today after the council lost its initial bid for compensation back in January.
The council want compensation for the little girl, known as "Child CP" under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme
The mum, who was 17-years-old when pregnant, allegedly consumed half a bottle of vodka and eight cans of strong lager a day - between 40-57 units.
However, charities the British Pregnancy Advisory Service and Birthrights, claim criminalising women who drink while pregnant is not the best way to help them or their children.
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The Court of Appeal has reserved its judgment on whether a pregnant woman committed "a crime of violence" against her child when she drank a "grossly excessive" amount of alcohol while pregnant.
After a day-long hearing Lord Dyson, the Master of the Rolls, sitting with Lord Justice Treacy and Lady Justice King, said the court would take time to consider its decision.
Lawyers for child "CP", who cannot be named for legal reasons, asked three judges to rule in a test case that the girl, now aged seven, is entitled to compensation after being born with an alcohol-related disorder.
The Court of Appeal is discussing a case today which could have huge implications for the way women behave during pregnancy.Read the full story ›
The Court of Appeal is to decide in a test case whether a pregnant woman committed "a crime of violence" against her child when she drank alcohol to excess while pregnant.
Lawyers for child "CP", who cannot be named for legal reasons, are asking three judges to rule the seven-year-old is entitled to compensation as a victim of violent crime after being born with an alcohol-related disorder.
If the appeal succeeds, it could pave the way for pregnant women's behaviour to be criminalised, according to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) and Birthrights.