Child abuse and the law
If you or a loved one has suffered abuse, assault or neglect at the hands of a person, organisation or institution, you may be legally entitled to make a claim for compensation.
Here we outline the legal processes by which compensation can be claimed by survivors and their families.
Making a claim through CICA
The CICA is a government-funded scheme which processes compensation applications on behalf of survivors of violent and sexual crime, who have suffered physically or mentally.
For more information about making a claim through CICA please visit our page about the authority.
Making a civil claim against the abuser
If you or a loved one has been subject to abuse, assault or neglect at the hands of an individual, you may be able to bring a claim for compensation against them.
In order to make a successful claim we must be able to show:
- That the abuse took place: If the person has been convicted of the offence this will be very straightforward. If not, Bolt Burdon Kemp will help prove that the abuse, assault or neglect happened. We will take a supportive statement, obtain expert evidence and secure any documentation that will help us prove your case
- That the claim has been brought within the specified time limit, or that the time limit should be waived: This limit is three years from the date of abuse or knowledge of it, or before the age of 21 if it occurred when the person was a child. In the vast majority of child abuse compensation claims the claim is brought outside of the time limit. Bolt Burdon Kemp is very experienced at persuading the court to waive this limit
- That the survivor has suffered harm and should be awarded compensation: Our expert team will show the impact that the abuse, assault or neglect has had on the survivor by obtaining personal and witness statements from family and friends about the effects the abuse has had. We will also instruct a medical expert (a consultant psychiatrist who is experienced in helping survivors of abuse) who will prepare a medico-legal report outlining the damage caused. We will use all this evidence to obtain the highest level of compensation possible
Making a civil claim against an institution or organisation
You may want to bring the claim against the institution or organisation which employed or was responsible for the person who abused you or allowed the abuse to happen. Organisations and institutions are often insured against such claims and would be financially capable of paying your compensation.
Bolt Burdon Kemp has a proven track record of successfully holding organisations to account, including:
- Religious organisations, for abuse by clergy
- The Scout Association, for abuse carried out by scout masters
- Schools, for abuse by teachers
- Local authorities, for abuse by social workers and foster carers
- Other cases, such as abuse by doctors, in the boys brigade, by sports coaches, youth club leaders, foster carers or by care workers
To hold the organisation responsible for your claim to account, Bolt Burdon Kemp relies on establishing vicarious liability or negligence.
By establishing that the person who abused you or your loved one used their position within an organisation or institution to allow them to commit the abuse, we can establish that the organisation was responsible for the person who committed the abuse, and should therefore compensate the survivor.
It is also possible to claim compensation from an institution or organisation by establishing that they were negligent in allowing the abuse to take place.
To do this, we must show that the organisation owed the survivor a duty of care, and that a failing or mistake on their part allowed the survivor to be abused. For example, if complaints were made about the abuser and the institution or organisation failed to take the appropriate action, or if the abuser previously held a criminal record for similar offences.
Bolt Burdon Kemp’s expert team have extensive experience in bringing negligence claims against organisation and institutions. This experience includes claims against social services, where there was a delay or failure to remove a child from an abusive or neglectful home.
How Bolt Burdon Kemp can help
Our team understands that financial compensation alone cannot truly compensate the survivors of abuse or neglect.
However, making a successful compensation claim can help you or your loved one regain a sense of power, and open the door to expert, specialist counselling and therapy. We are also experienced in obtaining apologies from organisations who have failed survivors.