Term-time holiday prosecutions – judgment available

June 2nd, 2016

The Divisional Court’s judgment in Isle of Wight Council v Platt [2016] EWHC 1283 (Admin) is now available. See my previous posts on the topic.

The judgment provides further information about the factual background. Mr Platt’s daughter (M) had had two unauthorised absences in the school year in question. First, she had been absent for a week in February when she had been on holiday with Mr Platt’s ex-wife. Secondly, she had been absent for seven school days in April when she went on holiday with Mr Platt (which was the relevant absence). Before that April holiday, her attendance for the school year had been 95% and afterwards it was 90.3%. The local authority’s documents indicated that attendance of 90-95% was satisfactory.

The Court’s conclusion was that “The magistrates were bound to consider whether there was regular school attendance in the light of all the evidence including the school’s record of attendance. In this case, I note that the education authority placed before the court M’s record of attendance from 1 September 2014 to 7 July 2015. I consider that the magistrates correctly had regard to that wider picture. Moreover in all the circumstances of this case I am unable to say that their conclusion was not one reasonably open to them.” The Court therefore answered the question in the case stated as follows: the magistrates did not err in law in taking into account attendance outside the offence dates 13 April to 24 April 2015 as particularised in the summons when determining the percentage attendance of the child.

Mr Platt (represented by our Paul Greatorex) had run an alternative argument that  the absence of a definition of “regular” attendance meant that the provision was far too vague to be the basis of a criminal offence, let alone an offence of strict liability. The Court commented that it did not need to consider that issue in order to dispose of the appeal and that it would have needed to consider joining DfE as an interested party.

Rachel Kamm, 11KBW, @kamm11KBW 

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