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Frequently Asked Questions

Over our many years of experience in the area of abuse work, we have been asked the following questions many times. In order to help you, we have attempted to answer the questions simply.

Compensation claims arising out of acts of abuse are usually complex and many legal difficulties can arise.

The first step is to establish against whom the claim for compensation should be made (the Defendant). In cases involving abuse that occurred in Residential Care Institutions, for example a Children’s Home, it is often the body responsible for running the Care Home against whom the claim will be made, for example a Local Authority, a Charity or a Religious Institution. Such a claim would usually be made on the basis that the body responsible for running the Home failed in their duties to adequately look after the child or adult in their care.

In other instances, compensation claims are often brought against individuals who have perpetrated acts of abuse, usually where the act of abuse has taken place outside of a residential care setting, for example, in the family home.

In all civil claims (Civil Law)  for compensation, it is necessary initially to establish how the compensation claim is to be funded. Then, the solicitor will try to obtain as much evidence as possible to help to prove the claim and arrange the help of medical experts in order that the value of the claim can be assessed.

If it is then appropriate to begin Court Proceedings, a formal legal claim is begun in Court. In most cases, the case does not need to proceed to a final Trial and in many cases compensation claims are settled “out of Court”. If a case does  proceed to trial, it would usually be necessary for the person bringing the case (the Claimant) to give evidence in court as a witness, unless the person bringing the case was not able to give evidence, for example if they suffered from a disability.

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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Difficulties Along the Way

Although no abuse is acceptable, for many reasons not every claim for compensation will be successful.

The Legal Aid Agency, decides whether to help to fund claims for compensation. The Agency will only authorise public funding to cases that arise from an alleged assault or deliberate abuse, as opposed to allegations of “negligently caused” injury. Claims alleging assault or abuse by a public servant may well be brought against the responsible  Authority that employs him or her as well as or instead of the individual. The Legal claim against the Authority may be one of negligence, but such claims are not excluded from funding, as the Agency looks at whether the injury itself was caused negligently or deliberately. For the time being at least therefore, Legal Aid remains available for many abuse claims where the party qualifies financially.

In a very large percentage of cases involving abuse, particularly child abuse, the abuse survivor is unable to talk about the abuse or seek the advice of a professional until many years after the abuse took place. Often this may be some twenty or thirty years after the abuse took place. In legal terms this can often cause great difficulties in pursuing compensation claims as the law presently does not adequately take into account the length of time a person takes to first disclose the abuse to someone else.

However, in many cases involving claims in the Civil Courts for compensation the Courts often have a discretion to allow a person to bring a claim for compensation even though the claim might ordinarily be outside of the legal time limits.

In many cases where a compensation claim is being pursued against an individual person, rather than his/her employer, difficulties can often arise if that individual Defendant would not have sufficient financial resources to be able to pay compensation to the person making the claim. Under such circumstances, it would be unwise to pursue any claim for compensation against the individual. It may still however be possible to pursue a claim for Criminal Injuries  Compensation.

In any proposed claim for compensation, it is essential to obtain proper legal advice at the earliest possible opportunity to minimise the risk of being unable to pursue the compensation claim. The same will apply in respect of claims for
Criminal Injuries Compensation.

All of the above difficulties can present many legal hurdles to a person seeking to pursue a claim for compensation in the Civil Courts. This can often lead to disappointment or a sense of injustice if a case does not succeed. However, with the right professional legal advice, many of the hurdles can often be overcome. It is always important to obtain  the right legal advice at the earliest possible stage.

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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The law awards damages for physical or psychological harm.  The amount of compensation you will receive depends on a number of different factors including how it has affected your life, whether you will need extra support in the future and how much money you have lost or will lose as a consequence.

To enable us to value your claim we ask medical experts to prepare a report detailing the harm inflicted. When we receive the medical report, we will assess your case and will be able to give you a better idea of how much compensation you will be awarded.  As experienced abuse solicitors we will do everything in our power to get you the maximum amount of compensation available to you. To read more about the compensation we have won on behalf of our clients see our ‘success stories’ page for more details.

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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Although it is impossible to turn back the clock to prevent the suffering, often, bringing a legal action can work to ensure that other people do not suffer in the same way.

  • Claims for compensation can help to support a family  through the trauma, anguish and distress caused by abuse, mis-use of power and incompetence.
  • Lawyers can play a valuable role in the survivor’s recovery process. The solicitor may be the first person who has heard and validated their experiences by agreeing to act for them.
  • For many, compensation is the only recognition that what happened to them was wrong.
  • For many it is the simple realisation that what they had to tell was the truth and that their problems were not of their own creation.
  • Compensation can assist in re-building lives and can help survivors to cope with the recurrent memories. Compensation may also be helpful in obtaining appropriate counselling and psychotherapy to assist in their treatment. By successfully pursuing cases against organisations, this will make public bodies responsible and will ensure that they will comply with their general duties to act within their powers, follow correct procedures and not act unreasonably. In some cases, speaking out about the abuse can even help to change the law, which will ultimately benefit the public as a whole.

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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A claim for compensation is made by suing the person who carried out the abuse, or those legally responsible for the abuse such as the Local Authority. The person bringing the claim for compensation is called ‘the Claimant’. The person who is being sued is called ‘the Defendant’. The process of bringing a claim is called ‘Litigation’.

The Claimant brings a claim by sending a ‘Claim Form’ (formerly a ‘writ’ or a ‘summons’) to the court, setting out the facts of the case and the reasons for bringing the claim. There is a fee payable by the Claimant for bringing any court case. The amount of the fee depends upon the value of the claim. (If the Claimant wins the case, the Defendant will usually have to pay the Claimant’s court fee in addition to paying compensation and usually the costs involved in bringing the case).

When the court receives the Claim Form from the Claimant, the Court will serve a copy of the Claim Form upon the Defendant. The Defendant will then be required to reply to the Claim by sending the Court either a formal written ‘Admission’, or, more often, a written ‘Defence’.

When the Court receives the Defendant’s reply to the claim, the Court will then decide how the case should proceed, ultimately to a trial.

For the procedure relating to claims to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, see the question above “What is involved in claiming compensation?

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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Whilst recent changes in the law have helped to speed up the compensation system, the civil court process can still take a very long time, particularly where complex issues or facts are involved and in the case of child abuse actions, where allegations of abuse often date back many years and can involve tracing many records.

Sometimes the process can be  long and can be daunting for many litigants. This guide is intended to help to explain the complicated procedures to give you a better understanding of the whole process. It is essential however to always seek legal advice and ask the solicitor any questions along the way. Having a better understanding of the system and procedures will help to minimise frustrations and confusion.

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.

Fill in our form or email us

Obtaining legal advice, assistance and representation will incur a legal charge.
There are generally three options for paying for legal costs:

(a) Public funding (Legal Aid)

(b) Private funding

(c) ‘No Win, No Fee’ arrangements.

(d) Legal Expenses Insurance

Solicitors will make charges based upon an hourly rate. The overall cost of the case will depend upon how much work is required and a complex case will cost more than a straightforward case. Most child abuse cases are complex and can involve investigations of records and events dating back many years. This can make cases very expensive to bring to court.

In addition to paying for the solicitor’s costs, every case will usually include fees from experts including psychiatrists, doctors, barristers and sometimes other specialist experts.

The legal system requires the losing party to a case to pay the winning party’s legal costs. An individual who brings a case and loses will only be liable to pay for the Defendant‘s legal costs in addition to his/her own legal costs in very few circumstances, which are too complicated to explain in this guide.

It is essential that anyone considering entering into litigation is fully aware of the expenses and implications involved.

Public funding / Legal Aid is presently available for any child abuse compensation claim where the person bringing the claim is financially eligible and where the case has legal merit. To read more about Legal Aid see this guide from the Government.

Where someone does not qualify financially for Legal Aid, the solicitor will consider whether it is appropriate to enter into a ‘Conditional Fee Agreement’  (a ‘CFA’) or what is sometimes misleading called a ‘No Win, No Fee’ arrangement.

It is essential that before entering into such an agreement, the terms of the arrangement are fully understood. In simple terms, the person bringing the claim would not pay for his/her solicitor’s fees if the case was lost. However, they may still have to pay for expert’s fees, barrister’s fees and potentially, their opponent’s legal costs. It is  sometimes advisable for an insurance policy to be taken out at the time of entering into a conditional fee agreement with the solicitor, to cover the eventuality of paying the opponent’s costs.

Sometimes existing insurance policies for house contents, cars, health, etc. include legal cover for certain types of case. It would be very unusual for cover to be available for child abuse claims. It is, however, worth checking any policies you have, to see if the description of cover may include advice for abuse.

The other alternative is to pay the solicitor on a privately funded basis as the case proceeds. This will involve paying the solicitor money on a regular basis when a bill is delivered for work carried out, or in advance of certain expenses, such as medical reports or barrister’s fees.

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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The law surrounding claims for compensation arising from child abuse can be extremely complex which is why speaking to the right solicitor is so important. There are many potential pitfalls and hurdles to overcome even before a compensation claim is brought to court.

The law sets out special procedures which must be followed before a person brings a compensation claim to court (Pre-action Protocols) and even more stringent procedures must be followed once litigation has commenced. Further, the law is changing constantly. A solicitor who specialises in bringing compensation claims for child abuse victims is best placed to advise and act for the victim, to guide them through the legal minefield.

Getting the right solicitor is not always easy. Most solicitors specialise in a particular field of law. A divorce lawyer or a conveyancing lawyer will not therefore be best placed to advise the child abuse victim on the litigation system.

Similarly, whilst most ‘personal injury’ solicitors are specialised in handling compensation claims arising from car accidents or accidents in the work place, a claim for compensation arising from child abuse brings its own special challenges and pitfalls.

Simpson Millar are members of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers (ACAL).  We all subscribe to their code of conduct. Peter Garsden is their President and one of the founder members.

We have all been trained in the specialist skills required to deal with survivors of abuse in an empathetic way. We might be the first person an abuse victim discloses the abuse to. Skill and care is therefore required to ensure that any distress is minimised.

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.

Fill in our form or email us

Free Advice

For an explanation of the criminal procedure and other useful free advice as well click the button to download a pdf file.

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