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CM threatened to take me to court! Any help?

(128 Posts)
kbjin Sat 31-Dec-11 03:22:24

Hi, I am just after some help and advice on how to deal with this issue.

We used a local CM in Nov this year, who lived just across the road from us which we thought was really handy at the time.

3 weeks into the contract, one day my son (3 yrs old) returned home and after the dinner he complained about pain on his bottom. I later found out from him that he was smacked by the CM. There were red marks (similar to 4 fingers shape) on his bottom, I took photos and video of him as evidence. Spoke to the CM the next day and had a meeting with her at my place, but she denied everything happened to my son. I also reported to Ofsted on the same day as advised by my son's nursery.

Ofsted responded very rapidly and as a result the CM's registration was suspended for 3 weeks during the investigation. S/Service and Police were also involved but they said they couldn't not established any evidence and place any charge on her because they couldn't interview my son due to his age. Police said the child needed to be at least 4 before they could interview the child.

Becuase of the lack of evidence through the police and s/service, now Ofsted didn't do anything but sent us a letter notifying us of the outcome which was what we were expecting anyway.

The CM just dropped off a letter last evening blackmailing us to pay her money for her loss of income, stresss and all the problems caused by the allegation we made against her during the 3 weeks' investigation conducted by various officials. She demanded £5000 plus the 4 weeks notice and said in the letter if we don't pay her the amount, she would take us to court.

Can she claim that much against us esp. for her loss of income and stress etc? I thought as parents, it's our duty protect our child from being mistreated by CMs, and the proper way to resolve the matter is to report it to Ofsted. Whatever action or investigation they were susposed to do was completely out of our control and why should we be responsible for the 3 weeks taken by Ofsted to complete the investigation?

The other thing about the contract is that it's a NCMA standard contract, on page 4 usually there is a notice period. But we couldn't recall we have agreed on the 4 weeks notice, all we agreed was the 4 weeks holiday notice. Also, later we noticed we were not given page 4 so we couldn't check what's written on it. After the incident we asked her to give us back the page 4 of the contract but she didn't. Instead, she exchanged the carbon copy (all 4 pages) with our 3 original pages. We carefully examined the carbon copy and notice there was nothing written on the notice period, it's blank.

Any advice would be highly appreciated!

SaraBellumHertz Sun 08-Jan-12 16:38:51

Ok since I've out myself as a lawyer (ans should make clear i'm a criminal practitioner hence advice on harassment - also posted in old name QOD) I am making it clear that I am not providing specific professional advice however if I was in the OP's position I would write a very short letter stating that

I) in the absence of a specified notice period, no such notice was contractually required and therefore no breach

II) notwithstanding the above the cm's mistreatment of your son would negate any requirement to provid notice.

Additionally demands for payment above and beyond the alleged amount in respect of the notice period have no basis in law and any further requests for the same will be deemed harassment and reported to the police.

You do not intend to enter into any further correspondence regarding this matter and any further letters will be passed onto your legal advisor.

Then ignore ignore ignore.

Not partic well worded - BF baby and on phone - amend as you see fit

HavePatience Sun 08-Jan-12 17:16:01

Sara I just read 'Sara' before and now I've noticed your full name - that is a GREAT name grin

SaraBellumHertz Sun 08-Jan-12 17:28:58

havepatience Thank you <<<twirls>>>

I have been dying for someone to notice it. I even had to hijack someone else's new name thread grin

kbjin Sun 08-Jan-12 17:48:26

SaraBellumHertz, thank you for the advice.
Am I being reasonable to put in the letter that she or relatives should not step foot on my property to hand deliver any future letters? as each time her sister sneakily drop off a letter through our letter box.
Now we got the second letter, (or even the third one in the future) from her, will this constitute a harassment?

SaraBellumHertz Sun 08-Jan-12 18:09:43

No problem :-)

I think you would be entitled to say something along the lines of "I do not intend to enter into any further correspondence regarding this matter. Please refrain from paying any further visits to my home address"

In terms of the offence of harassment it is made out where a person pursues a course of conduct which amounts to harassment, and is aware or ought to be aware that it does. Harassment has a wide definitiona and can include alarming or distressing a person.

Sending threatening letters to a person, visiting their home when being asked not to etc could all be interpreted as harassment.

If you have genuine concers about this woman's behaviour speak to the police about her.

HavePatience Sun 08-Jan-12 21:39:22

I think you should write a letter using SaraBellum's words but change 'you' to 'I'. grin
What world is she living in that she thinks she will get paid by a family who sought help for suspected smacking of a child by trusted cm? Even if SS and police and ofsted cleared her ( which I still believe is stupid and I think even less of ofsted ratings now - and I'm a teacher at an ofsted outstanding school saying that), the op still had reasonable suspicion ( and evidence with photo and video) that cm hit her child.
Does the cm honestly think that the op will be charged for looking out for the welfare of her child (and others in cm's care?)
Mind boggling

kbjin Sun 08-Jan-12 22:18:34

SaraBellumHertz, thanks again for the advice.

I had amentioned to the Police during their visit to my place to take our statment, even before I received her letter as I gathered she could be this type of person. They advised me advised to seek legal advice she tried to make a claim against us and contact the police if she became harassive to us.

HavePatience, definitely, I will use Sara's words.

Behonest, we couldn't think of a reason why those red marks (clearly 4 fingers marks with the second being longest - possibly the middle finger) appeared on my son's bottom and my son repeatedly said it was her who did it. My son also mentioned her giving him Thomas the Tank Engine toy to comfort him after the incident. All these just added up and I don't think my son would have such telant at his age to make up a story which made so much sense to adults!!

I am also pursuing with S/S as they still haven't given me a single letter or report to give us their investigation result but they had already closed the case!

Contacted Ofsted and tried to clarify with them about their role in this complaint, their reply was they only there to check with the complaince. They didn't investigate this particular incident to prove or disprove if the CM had mistreated my son. They said it was the S/S & Police jobs to investigate.

Yet, these two bodies couldn't establish anything becuase of "insufficient" evidence as no interviews could be conducted.

When I asked when would Ofsted consider striking off a registered person, they siad depended on his/his suitability. As there was no evidence to show this CM was unsuitable to stay on the register, they couldn't remove her from it.

The most rediculous thing was, when the Police told us they couldn't interview my son due to his age, but they said Ofsted could do more as Ofsted would not be restricted by the same legislation! Yet, Ofsted said they would not involve body else other than the registered person. Aren't they just passing the can? And S/S was trying to avoid getting back to us.

HavePatience Tue 10-Jan-12 16:02:08

Have you sent her a reply kbjin? <nosey>

kbjin Wed 11-Jan-12 01:53:10

havepatience, I am drafting one at the moment. Planning to send it to her end of this week.

kbjin Thu 19-Jan-12 14:06:48

A bit of update for everybody, today I got a court letter and the CM was trying to claim £5000 off us for the same reasons she stated in her letter.

dmo Thu 19-Jan-12 19:40:02

sad cant believe its going ahead angry

HavePatience Thu 19-Jan-12 19:45:29

Keep your video and photos and follow Sarabellum's advice when she returns with it.

looneytune Thu 19-Jan-12 20:07:43

I can't believe it! angry sad I'd probably seek advice in the Legal section too! keep us posted.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Thu 19-Jan-12 20:11:31

Is it Small Claims? She doesn't need a lawyer or even advice for that. You can represent yourself.

kbjin Thu 19-Jan-12 21:52:43

She must be desperate for money! Said on the claim I destroyed part of her and I was very "decitful" (her word) and she's claiming loss of earnings, stress / "defination" (again her own word) of character.
Also claiming her loss of income for 3 weeks in her letter but not put down 4 weeks in the court claim form.

HavePatience Thu 19-Jan-12 21:55:03

Is it small claims?

OldLadyKnowsNothing Thu 19-Jan-12 22:10:17

She hasn't a leg to stand on re her emotional stress. As for lost earnings, shouldn't she have had insurance for that?

Second that you should ask in the legal sectiion.

kbjin Sat 21-Jan-12 00:41:03

Havepatient, its small claim, from the wording she put down on the claim form, doesn't look like she's got a laywer helping her at that stage.
My legal advisor said she may have chosen small claim court because she does have to pay for costs if she loses.
Other than loss of incomes and stress she also put down defamation of character, can't see what she can claim for damages to her reputations? Nobody has made it public about her wrong doing and ruined her reputations unless she chose to tell those parents whose kids were in her care.
I though her insurance would have cover her loss of earning too?!

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sat 21-Jan-12 17:36:22

Agree it sounds as if she hasn't taken any sort of legal advice. She can only sue for actual financial loss eg had you agreed a notice period and not observed it, she could claim that (but, without rereading the whole thread, I seem to recall that no notice period was mentioned in her contract with you). Loss of earnings while suspended should be covered by her insurance, and as for £5k for hurt feelings, the court will laugh at her.

She's obviously upset, but there is no financial compensation payable for that.

sassyminder Mon 23-Jan-12 14:38:59

Hello OP. The Childminder is innocent until someone proves she is guilty. Police and SS could not prove she is guilty so I can see why she is suing for emotional stress and if she probably was not allowed to work while investigation was taking place she is also right ask for loss of earnings. Are you aware that she has the duty to let all her current and future clients know that once an allegation was made against her and she was cleared as innocent...even though you and other agencies can't prove she is guilty she still have to let all her future POTENTIAL clients know. Her reputation is damaged forever. Even though police says she is innocent - and just in case she is innocent - this won't look pretty in her profile. TBH I find it really hard to believe that a smack done before 2:30 would still hurt and leave marks at 8:30....and 3 years old children lie a lot you know, you better get used to that. And tbh I also find you to be a dodge parent, you signed a contract you didn't even realize there was one page missing, you didn't make sure you had a notice period and you didn't check the CM's ofsted report because she was recommended. Yet you knew she was living the children with her sister and dint do anything about it. I think the marks on your child are from somebody/something else (why not in the nursery), he is lying and you overreacted.

HavePatience Mon 23-Jan-12 14:43:59

Are you the cm sassyminder?
Wow. I would hope that no parent would EVER lie about something like this. Incredible.

sassyminder Mon 23-Jan-12 14:46:28

Now Imagine that there are parents out there who come up with allegations against childcare just to cover up their wrong doings or to take petty revenge. It is a scary business. I as a CM see so many parents being so careless to their children and let them hurt themselves or put themselves in dangerous situations that could easily be avoided, those will be the same if their children has a minor scratch on the knee while with CM's or nurseries, will be calling police, ofsted and so on...

mercibucket Mon 23-Jan-12 14:55:19

Hello and big wave to the cm/cm mum/cm sister/cm best friend
Hope you counter claim op

NotaDisneyMum Mon 23-Jan-12 15:25:05

I've wandered in here by accident, but thought I'd add my opinion.

Surely, if a professional in ANY sector is prevented from trading, and loses income due the actions of a regulatory body who are conducting a genuine investigation, then it is considered a business risk which can be insured against?

This situation is the same as if someone complained about my service/food (I'm a caterer), and as a result, the Environmental Health Dept stopped me trading while they investigate. Once the investigation is complete, they may well let me trade again.
Unless I can prove that the complaint against me was malicious, with the intent of damaging my reputation/business, there is nothing I can do. I can't seek compensation from the person who complained - they genuinely believed that it was my service that was the problem, even though it turned out not to be the case. This is a business risk I take. I can take out insurance against that risk - and the insurance will pay out if they are happy I did not do anything wrong (and can prove it, hence the need for copious records!).

Talking of insurance <and this was my main point, really> - Have you got household insurance, OP? Most policies include legal cover for situations like this - I'd leave it in their hands and let them thrash it out with the Childminder, tbh.

sassyminder Mon 23-Jan-12 19:49:53

Oh yes. If her insurance is up to date, so she should not be asking for money and is a business risk if a dodge parent make a malicious complaint about them...(in fact anybody can make a complaint and any anounimous allegation against a CM will be investigated by Ofsted)
It just scares me tbh how risky this business is for the provider....and obviously for families and parents if you are unlucky enough to choose a dodge CM.

Sorry OP for implyinh your child lied, I did not want to say you are dodge, but there are bad CMs and also bad parents out there...and bad it just scares me that a parent or anyone can make an false malicious allegation against me and even if I am not guilty, it will damage my reputation forever...

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