Drinking during pregnancy to such an extent that it can harm the unborn baby could become a criminal offense should the Court of Appeals in England overturn a decision reached by an appeals court.
A tribunal court had ruled in 2011 that a woman who drank excessive amounts of alcohol during her pregnancy was responsible for the fetal alcohol spectrum disorder suffered by a six-year old girl. The court ruled that the personal injury was "directly attributable to a crime of violence" and the child was eligible for compensation.
However the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority successfully managed to overturn the ruling in the upper tribunal of the Administrative Appeals Chamber in December.
The council in North England that had initially filed an application for compensation has now appealed in the Court of Appeal and is hoping to overturn the appeal verdict. "We were approached by a local authority with responsibility for a child very badly damaged as a consequence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. They considered making an application under the criminal injuries compensation scheme because they thought there was an argument that the child had been damaged by being victim of a crime. The crime being the birth mother carrying on drinking knowing that it could damage the child", GLP Solicitors' Neil Sugarman, whose firm is handling the case, said.