An institution is somewhere outside of the family home which is usually managed and controlled by a stranger to the family, or an organisation. Examples of institutions where abuse has been known to take place are (the list is not exhaustive) :-
- Care Homes
- Churches and other Religious Establishments
- Sports Buildings
- Swimming Pools
- Holiday Buildings
- Club/Leisure Premises eg. Scout Huts, School Halls
The abuser is sometimes employed by the organisation. If so the organisation will, in most circumstances, be liable for any abuse carried out because the law says that an employer is liable for what the employee does.
Even where the abuser is a volunteer, priest, or other person where the relationship is not so obviously employer/employee, the organisation will usually be liable for any abuse.
It is usually easier to bring a case for abuse where it was done by a responsible person at an institution because the organisation usually has assets and/or is insured.
Organisations often have complaints systems, more so now, than in the past, which make it easier to report the abuse to the correct person. We often ask for any records that exist and notes which may record what happened at the time.
We also need to see any contemporary records made at the time such as Day Books, Registers, Health Records, Personal Files, Personnel Records etc. One of our jobs is to apply to various bodies for historical records which may have existed in the past.
Data Protection law is sometimes used to prevent disclosure of the identity of witnesses on the grounds of privacy. Whilst understandable, this approach can hinder our access to important evidence. This firm took a ground breaking case to the Court of Appeal called Durham County Council v Dunne (2014), which made it easier to obtain access to this type of information.
It is important to know who was responsible for the institution in the past. Often the legal identity of the organisation has changed several times over the years. In the case of religious establishments, the responsibility can often be complex and arguably determined by Canon Law. We often need to research the position before we can establish the correct Defendant to any claim.
It is always important to report any abuse to the police, no matter how long ago it was committed. We can help you through this process. Each police force now has well trained and highly skilled officers who specialise in dealing with allegations of abuse. For more information read our page devoted to taking your abuser to Court.
Places Where Institutional Abuse Can Happen:
If you think you need any help then:-
The Specialist Abuse Litigation Team at Simpson Millar are able to offer confidential and professional advice on the merits and possible pitfalls in bringing a claim for compensation.
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