From Orkney Isles comes the recent case of Shields v Crossroads. The circumstances are that the pursuer became involved in an affair which came to an end. Nothing remotely unusual about that, you might say. However, the affair was with her social worker, and regrettably, as a result of its ending, the pursuer suffered serious injury to her mental health. As a result, she sued her former lover’s employers on the basis that they were under a duty to protect her against their employee’s conduct, namely, having an affair with her because he was her social worker.
Crossroads maintained that it was not fair, just or reasonable for there to be any such duty owed by them and further, there was no duty on the social worker himself to refrain from having a relationship with his client in the circumstances of this case. There was also no evidence to suggest that either party had not willingly and freely agreed to their course of action. The Court did not make any award of damages.
It considered that there was no basis to impose such a duty because the pursuer went into a relationship as a willing partner at a time when she was, in law, deemed to be fully capable of so doing. Clearly, with vulnerable adults or children, the law might expect more stringent safeguards