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Survivors Help Page

Can we help you?

This page has been created to help survivors of abuse learn what they may expect to get from us. A trip to see a solicitor   can be apprehensive for anyone. The team are committed to making  the relationship between us and you as comfortable as possible. Commitment to clients, together with a willingness to acquire knowledge and listen empathetically, are important to members of the Abuse Team. If you want to make an anonymous and confidential enquiry you can email us or fill in our enquiry form

Who are we and what do we do?

We are a team of solicitors and ancillary staff who are committed to helping the victims of abuse claim their legal rights, and find whatever legal remedies are available. We offer Legal Aid (subject to a financial means test), as well as “No Win No Fee Agreements” where appropriate. If you want to find out about the availability of Legal Aid you can search their own site. To go there now click here.

The department is headed by Peter Garsden. For a full list of members see the “Team” page. We are all members of ACAL (Association of Child Abuse Lawyers). Indeed Peter Garsden is a founder member and designer of the Web Site. If you want to visit the site click here


What should I do before I go?

Initially a solicitor will want to get a basic grasp of what has happened to you. Sometimes they ask you to fill in documents or legal aid forms before you go. If you do this it saves an enormous amount of time, and helps your solicitor to concentrate upon the main issues (if you want help about legal Aid go their site – Legal Services Commission).

It helps a great deal to put the main points down on paper or a small card. You no doubt have many questions you want to ask. Write them down and make sure ask them.


– a solicitor is there to help you but time is always precious. Try to get across the basic points, and do not expect to tell your whole story at the first visit. That will come later when the two of you have developed trust in each other, and you feel ready to talk.


– we are all bound by a strict duty of confidentiality. Whatever you say will remain completely confidential and will not be revealed to anyone without your authority.


– We are committed to treating you with understanding

What can a solicitor not do for you?

A solicitor’s job is to advise you upon the law, and help you through any legal proceedings that you want to start. He must remain objective if he is to help you properly.

He is not qualified to counsel you or give you any psychological help. There are many organisations who can help you to recover, if you wish it. We can refer you to an appropriate person or organisation. There may be a link to an appropriate organisation on our links page. solicitor will fight your case for you he will join not with you in the battle. If he did this he would lose his objectivity.

A solicitor does not usually get involved in the criminal prosecution of an abuser. That is the job of the police. They normally have a witness liaison officer who helps through the traumatic process. At the moment legal aid is not available to provide you with an advocate at court. Your solicitor however may want to sit in at the trial to take notes of evidence

What legal remedies are available to you? This is a short summary – for a complete copy of our guide click here

Your case may form part of a Group Action (see our special page). For a guide on Group Actions and what they mean click here (you wiill need Adobe Acrobat Reader)


  • Law is never easy to use and there are bound to be frustrations along the way.
  • Despite recent changes the law will not move as quickly as you want it to.
  • If you are now an adult and the abuse happened many years ago, your case may be out of time. Your solicitor can advise you about this. It can be a difficult hurdle to jump.

Civil Action

– You may be entitled to sue someone for the personal injuries you have suffered as a result of the abuse. This includes mental injury.

  • You have to show someone is to blame. You have to show negligence, or sue your abuser for the assault. You have to show that the negligence caused the injury.
  • There are time limits for starting a court case, so do not delay. You must get advice as soon as you can.
  • The case is started in either the County Court or the High Court.
  • You may never have to go to court and give evidence. It depends if the case settles.
  • All you can receive from the court is compensation. The court has no power to punish the abuser. That is the job of the Police in the Criminal Court
  • The case can take a long time – 2 – 5 Years
  • Legal Aid is available.
  • Your solicitor will have to get a medical report on you. You will have to visit a specialist (usually a psychiatrist/psychologist)
  • Your solicitor will have to get hold of a lot of records on you from the past, such as care and GP records. Sometimes the records have been destroyed or are extremely difficult to find. The whole process obviously takes a long time.
  • A solicitor at some stage will usually involve a barrister for help with documents. Often a barrister will represent you at a Court hearing

Criminal Injuries Compensation

– is available for abuse committed after 1964 where it can be regarded as an act of violence.

  • It is available for abuse in the family with some exceptions.
  • There are time limits for bringing a claim to the authority, which can be waived in certain circumstances. It is important to get advice as soon as possible.
  • The compensation is calculated upon a tariff scheme basis and is not generous
  • The Board which is based in Glasgow, can and usually do reduce or refuse compensation if you have a criminal record
  • Legal Aid is very limited
  • The compensation is assessed on paper without you having to go to a hearing, unless you want to appeal against an award
  • Normally there has to be a criminal case and a conviction of the abuser – but not always

Public Enquiry

– You will no doubt remember the North Wales Tribunal, which lasted over a year. The survivors were entitled to free representation by a solicitor. Your solicitor may be able to help along this path.

Local Enquiry

– The difference between local enquiry and a public enquiry is that a local enquiry is organised by a local authority, and a public enquiry by central government. Once again your solicitor may be able to help.


– According to the law you have a right to see your personal social services file. We may be able to help. Your records are usually vital evidence in your case.


– Sometimes a solicitor can advise you or represent you at Tribunals of Enquiry, where there is a hearing to clarify an issue. Legal Aid may be available.

For a complete copy of our Child Abuse Guide click here


  • We are here to help you.
  • Legal Advice may be free for a first short interview. You must ask us to clarify the position before you start

If you want to make an anonymous enquiry about a problem, please feel free to (email) or telephone the office on +44 0345 357 9200. Alternatively you can fill in our enquiry form. To read our comprehensive guide click here

Let us help you

You can get help from us on various subjects, free of charge

To get in touch with us click the email link, or fill in our Contact Form

You can also read our free legal help pages – Free Legal Help

Free Advice

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