Abuse Guide for Survivors
This guide was created to help survivors of abuse understand what to anticipate from us. A visit to a solicitor can be upsetting for anyone. The Scott-Moncrieff staff is dedicated to making your experience with us as comfortable as possible. Dedication to clients, as well as a readiness to learn and listen empathically, are crucial to us.
Who exactly am I and what do I do?
I have solely handled abuse cases since 1992, and I am a founding member of ACAL (Association of Child Abuse Lawyers). I am dedicated to assisting victims of abuse in asserting their legal rights and obtaining whatever legal remedies are available. I provide Legal Aid (subject to a financial means test) and “No Win No Fee Agreements” where needed.
If you want to learn more about Legal Aid, you may visit their website at https://www.gov.uk/legal-aid.
No Win No Fee arrangements are not always available, but they are discussed in our handbook which is available on request.
Visit http://www.childabuselawyers.com to learn more about the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers and their Code of Practice.
What do I need to do before I visit my solicitor?
A solicitor will want to get a basic understanding of what has happened to you during the initial appointment. Before you go, they may ask you to fill out paperwork or legal assistance forms. This saves a significant amount of time and allows your solicitor to focus on the important concerns.
It is really beneficial to write down the important points. You’re certain to have a lot of questions. Make a note of them and be sure to ask them.
We developed a questionnaire to assist us in gathering the key facts of the case. Please fill it out and email it to us. in good time.
Remember, a solicitor is there to assist you, but time is always of the essence. Try to get the main ideas over, and don’t expect to be able to convey your entire narrative on the first visit. It will come later, when you both have gained trust in one other and are ready to discuss.
Remember, we are all obligated to maintain complete confidentiality. Whatever you say will be kept strictly secret and will not be disclosed to anyone outside of our firm without your express permission.
Remember, we are devoted to treating you with compassion.
What can’t a lawyer do for you?
A solicitor’s function is to advise you on the law and assist you with any legal procedures that you wish to initiate. He or she must maintain objectivity in order to appropriately assist you.
Your solicitor is not qualified to counsel you or provide you with psychological assistance. There are numerous organisations that can assist you in your recovery. We can refer you to the right person or organisation.
While a solicitor will fight your case on your behalf, he or she will not fight with you. he/she would lose their objectivity if he/she did this.
A solicitor is unlikely to become engaged in the criminal prosecution of an abuser. That is the responsibility of the police, who usually have a witness liaison officer to assist you during the stressful procedure. Legal aid is not yet available to provide you with an advocate in court. Your lawyer, on the other hand, may wish to attend the trial to take notes on the evidence.
What legal remedies do you have?
- The law is never easy to apply, and there will always be problems along the road. Avoid making direct contact with your opponent. This is why we are instructed. There are numerous reasons why doing so could jeopardise your own case.
- Despite recent adjustments, the Iaw does not move as swiftly as you would like.
- If you are now an adult and the abuse occurred many years ago, your case may be out of time. Your lawyer can help you with this. That can be a challenging obstacle to overcome.’
Civil Action – You may have the right to sue someone or an organisation for personal injuries sustained as a result of the abuse. This includes psychological harm.
- You must demonstrate that someone is to blame. You must demonstrate negligence or sue your abuser for the assault. You must demonstrate that the injury was caused by the negligence.
- There are time limits for filing a court case, so don’t put it off. You must get advice as quickly as possible.
- The case is launched in either the County or High Court.
- You may never have to go in court and testify. That is dependent on whether the case is resolved.
- The only thing you can get from the court is compensation. The abuser cannot be punished by the court. That is the responsibility of the Criminal Court. We do, however, normally want an apology, which is sometimes granted in addition to monetary compensation.
- The matter could take 2 to 5 years to resolve.
- There is legal aid available.
- Your solicitor will be need to obtain a medical report on you. You will need to see an expert (usually a psychiatrist or psychologist)
- Your solicitor will need to obtain a large number of previous records on you, such as care and GP records. Records are often destroyed or incredibly difficult to locate. The entire procedure can take a long time.
- A solicitor will normally instruct a barrister to assist with paperwork at some point. A barrister will frequently represent you in Court.
Criminal Injuries Compensation – is payable for maltreatment committed after 1964 that can be considered an act of violence. The government pays for it.
- With a few exceptions, it is accessible for family abuse.
- The authority has time limits for filing claims, which can be waived in extreme situations. It is critical to get advice as soon as possible.
- The compensation is computed on the basis of a tariff scheme and is not generous.
- If you have a criminal record, the Board, which is situated in Glasgow, can and typically does limit or withhold compensation.
- Unless you want to appeal, the compensation is determined on paper rather than in person.
- To comply, there must be a criminal prosecution and a conviction of the abuser – although this is not always essential.
Public Inquiry – You may be familiar with the North Wales Tribunal, which lasted over a year. The participants were entitled to free legal representation. If there is an inquiry relevant to your case, your solicitor may be able to assist you along this path.
Local Inquiry – A local enquiry differs from a public enquiry in that it is organised by a local authority, whereas a public enquiry is organised by central government. Again, your solicitor may be able to assist.
Records – You have the legal right to inspect your personal social services file. We might be able to assist. In most cases, your records are critical evidence.
Tribunals – A solicitor may be able to advise or defend you at Tribunals of Enquiry, when a hearing is held to clarify a problem. Legal Assistance could be available.
What will occur?
The investigation phase – First, we must determine whether you have a case. To do so, we must seek evidence. This could take a long time depending on the type of case we’re looking at and, in particular, how long ago the abuse occurred. Witnesses can die or disappear. Records are frequently misplaced or difficult to locate.
- Your proof – we’ll need a detailed statement from you at some point. Typically, we collect basic information from you in the early stages (the questionnaire is an important part of this process) and then a much longer statement once all of your documents have been located. You are our most crucial witness.
- Medical Report – In order to receive compensation, you must demonstrate that you were harmed and sustained bodily injury. In most cases of abuse, the harm is psychological rather than physical. As a result, we employ psychiatric or psychological experts to write a report on you. They will need to see you for several hours and will ask you many questions about what happened and, more significantly, how the abuse affected you.
- If physical injury has occurred, we will refer you to various types of medical experts based on the type of injury sustained.
- It may take several months to acquire the medical report. When we acquire it, we must follow your directions. This may be an emotional encounter, and we will treat it with caution. Because the report is so sensitive and secret, it is not always advisable to send it to you. We normally recommend that you read it in our offices with a close friend or relative.
- Records – we must obtain many types of records upon you from different sources. We will ask you to sign several forms of authority to enable us to obtain the records on your behalf. The following types are common in abuse cases
- Social Care Records – held by the local authority if you were put in care.
- Care Home Records – these records will be vital if you were abuse in a care home or other type of institution. We may not be able to obtain them without issuing legal Proceedings.
- GP Records – it is important to obtain a full set of records going back to your date of birth if Possible.
- Criminal Records – these records can be important if the abuse led to a life of crime
- Education Records
- Prison Records – sometimes there is helpful evidence of the effects of the abuse where therapy was obtained in prison or a confidential disclosure made to a chaplain or probation officer
- Probation Records
- Hospital Records – particularly important where you have undergone psychiatric care subsequent to or even before the abuse
- Other types of Evidence – in this category are included:-
- Police Statement – if you have taken part in a police investigation into the prosecution of your abuser we will want to see a copy of your witness statement. Usually the police will not release it to us until after the police case is over. Even then some police forces prevent us from sending a copy of it to you. We will ask you to sign a form of authority to enable us to obtain a copy on Your behalf.
- Witnesses – it is sometimes necessary for us to search for, and take a statement from, witnesses. They may have been to the same care home, school or institution as you. They may have heard you talk about the abuse in the past. They may have witnessed the abuse taking place. Each case is different.
- Tribunals/Enquiries – if you have taken part in any enquiries such as police prosecutions, local enquiries or public enquiries we will need to see a copy of any evidence given by you or others as there may be useful evidence of assistance to your case. The North Wales Tribunal is a good example of this.
- Miscellaneous – it may be necessary to obtain old photographs or a sketch plan/video of the layout of the institution where you were abused. For instance it may be useful to be able to prove that the place of abuse was so public that someone must have witnessed the abuse when arriving or leaving. There are infinite categories of evidence which may be relevant in individual cases.
The investigation stage usually takes between 6 and 12 months. ln some cases it can take even longer depending upon the circumstances.
Records – We must gather a variety of records on you from various sources. To get the records on your behalf, we will require you to sign several forms of authorization. The following kinds are typical in cases of abuse:
- If you were placed in care, the local authority would have your social care records.
- Care Home Records – If you were abused in a care home or another form of institution, these documents will be critical. We may be unable to access them unless we file legal proceedings.
- GP Records – If possible, collect a complete set of records dating back to your date of birth.
- Criminal Records – These records can be useful if the abuse resulted in a criminal career.
- Education Records
- Prison Records – where therapy was acquired in prison or a confidential revelation made to a chaplain or probation officer, there may be relevant proof of the impact of the abuse.
- Probation History
- Hospital records are especially relevant if you received mental treatment following or perhaps before the abuse.
Other Records – various sorts of evidence are included in this category:
- Police Records – We will need a copy of your witness statement if you participated in a police inquiry into the prosecution of your abuser. Typically, the police will not provide it to us until the police matter has concluded. Even yet, some police departments will not allow us to provide you a copy. To receive a copy on Your behalf, we will require you to sign a form of authorisation.
- Witnesses – It is sometimes important for us to seek out and question witnesses. They could have attended the same nursing home, school, or institution as you. They may have heard you talk about the abuse in the past. They may have seen the abuse take place. Each case is unique.
- Tribunals/Enquiries – If you have participated in any investigations, such as police prosecutions, local inquiries, or public inquiries, we will need to see a copy of any evidence supplied by you or others, as it may be relevant evidence in your case. A good example is the North Wales Tribunal.
- Miscellaneous – old photographs or a sketch plan/video of the layout of the institution where you were mistreated may be required. It may be useful, for example, to be able to demonstrate that the place of abuse was so public that someone must have witnessed the abuse while arriving or departing. There are an unlimited number of evidence categories that may be relevant in individual cases.
The Evidential Evaluation
Only at this point will we be able to determine whether your case is worth pursuing. We frequently seek the advice of a barrister to help us make this decision. If the case is legally helped, the Legal Aid Agency may require the advice of a barrister.
A case that appears promising at first may turn out to be a dud after further study. An initially poor case, on the other hand, can improve with examination. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent this from occurring. It is quite common with such statements.
It is pointless to subject you to the difficulties and financial hazards of a court case unless the evidence appears to be strong enough.
If your case passes the evidential review, we will proceed to the next stage.
We always present the opponent with a list of allegations at an early stage – usually at the start of the investigative stage, as long as we can reliably predict which way the case will go. If not, we may wait until after the evidentiary inquiry is completed.
We evaluate the opponent’s attitude. It is usually simple to determine whether court actions are required at an early stage. If your opponent want to settle without going to court, we will advise you accordingly. When making an offer to settle a dispute, the opponent will frequently seek a reduction in damages. As a result, it is vital to weigh the risks of going to court and maybe receiving more – or less.
We may be able to make a “Part 36” settlement offer. In other words, we can notify the opponent how you want your case resolved. This puts the opponent under duress and puts legal fees and interest at risk. We will provide you with more thorough guidance on this during the course of the case.
If we believe that judicial actions are required, we calculate the expenses and time involved. Court processes will inevitably take longer and cost more money.
Costs (which include our fees, expenditures, and VAT):
- If you win, the loser pays a substantial amount of your expenditures, but not all of them. Even if you win, it is quite unlikely that you would recoup all of your expenses.
- If you lose, the typical rule is that, with one or two exceptions, you are not required to pay your opponent’s charges. In some exceptional instances, Legal Aid or insurance coverage may cover your opponent’s legal fees. Whilst you are responsible for your own fees, you are not required to pay them in most cases if you have legal assistance or we agree to a No Win No Fee Arrangement. Some insurance coverage will cover your expenses.
- Expenses – There will be a court fee to pay when the procedures begin, as well as further expenses as the case progresses. Other expenditures, such as the cost of medical reports, must be paid as the case progresses because we are unable to support them. These can be funded in a variety of ways, including Legal Aid, insurance, or a bank loan, which we can assist you in arranging.
The Stages in Court Proceedings – please note that all times below are approximations and can vary widely depending upon the evidence in the particular case
|Stage in Case
|From start of case
|Filing of Papers – both sides have to file in court and serve on each other a summary of their cases. We must include the medical report and a list of any monetary claims you want to make. This stage usually lasts about 2 to
|Disclosure of Documents – both sides have to prepare a list of documents, and send a copy of the documents to the other. This stage takes longer and can last about 6 months
|Further Evidence – it may be necessary to conduct any investigations into evidence revealed in the other side’s documents. Sometimes further expert evidence is needed. Witnesses are traced and interviewed. A final statement of your evidence is prepared and served on the other side. This is important as often it forms the basis of your evidence in court. This stage can take from 3 to 6 months depending how complex the case is.
|Trial or Court Hearing – this stage is usually reached after about 2 years into the case. Trial can come up sooner but this is unlikely as child abuse cases are so complex. Some cases can take even longer to get to trial for all sorts of reasons too complex to note here
|2 to 3 Years or more
The Final Hearing or Trial
We always reassess the strengths and weaknesses of your case after gathering all of the data. The merits of a case frequently vary from beginning to end, owing to the fact that we view the opponent’s documents and witness testimony at the end of the case. We frequently arrange for an independent assessment from a barrister. We may set up a meeting with your barrister. If your case is Legally Assisted, the Legal Aid Agency will normally seek a favourable assessment from a barrister before risking supporting the cost of a trial. In any case, the majority of the costs are incurred immediately prior to and during the final hearing.
Preparing for trial is a time-consuming process. We must ensure that all necessary evidence is available, as well as any witnesses or professionals who must appear in court. We will need to know which dates are difficult for you to attend court.
Most cases do not proceed to trial because either the other party has offered a pre-trial settlement offer or your case is insufficiently strong. Yet, once a trial date is determined, it is typical for both sides to begin making settlement proposals. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways.
- A written offer containing penalties if the person receiving it does not accept it.
- The claimant’s “Part 36 offer” of settlement – see above
If all attempts to resolve the dispute fail and the case goes to court, we will tell you how long it will take. You must make plans to be available for the duration of the hearing. Our barrister will have gone over your evidence with you beforehand, so you will be well prepared. It is critical, however, that you re-read your witness statement in order to prepare for the hearing.
You may not be allowed to pay for the expenses of attending court to fight your own case; however, witnesses are entitled to be compensated for reasonable expenditures incurred by you (or your funders e.g. the Legal Aid Agency)
Nowadays, the court will frequently allow you to utilise your written statement instead of delivering your story in evidence. The opponent’s barrister, on the other hand, will be permitted to challenge you about your evidence. This is known as cross-examination. He or she will put your words to the test. Both sides call any further witnesses to testify. AII witnesses are subject to cross-examination.
The experts may testify regarding their reports. The barristers will then summarise their case for the judge. In most civil proceedings, the judge sits alone, without the presence of a jury. As a result, at the conclusion of the case, the judge issues a decision with reasons for the decision. If you have won, the court will tell you how much money you are entitled to. He or she will make decisions on legal fees.
When the case is completed, we will inform you of the decision’s implications for you. The costs of the legal proceedings must then be resolved independently. This process can typically last for months. Naturally, the paying party will strive to gain as huge a discount from the receiving party as feasible. Separate assessment actions may be required in the courts. This might sometimes cause a delay in the payment of any compensation to you, especially if you are supported by the Legal Aid Agency.
ln conclusion The entire procedure is rigorous and unpleasant for all parties involved. It is critical that you understand what will happen before you begin so that you may properly prepare yourself. As a result, we’ve put together this guide to assist you.
- We are here to assist you.
- Legal Aid may be provided for free at the first brief interview. Before you begin, you must ask us to clarify the situation.
If you want to make an anonymous enquiry about a problem, please feel free to email us email@example.com or telephone the office on +44 203 972 3011.
@ Peter Garsden