If I bring a claim for compensation for sexual abuse will I have to go to court?
If you bring a claim for compensation for sexual abuse it is unlikely that you will have to go to court. Civil claims for compensation for sexual and physical abuse can be and usually are dealt with outside the court process. Your solicitor will gather all the necessary evidence and present this to your opponent (the defendant). The opponent in your claim will be given the opportunity to settle your claim without recourse to the courts. If the opponent is not willing to settle your claim or is not willing to pay you a sum that we consider fair and reasonable then we will advise you whether you should issue proceedings to start the court process.
We have an organisational and institutional abuse compensation calculator which will give you a guide as to what compensation you could expect to receive.
Even where court proceedings have to be issued there is a very high chance that your claim would not actually go to a final hearing. In our experience less than 2% of our cases actually end up at a final court hearing.
My solicitors tells me that we need to issue proceedings what does this involve?
When your solicitor advises you to issue court proceedings this just means that your claim will formally be registered with the court and this starts the litigation process. Prior to the issue of proceedings the court will not be involved in your case at all. The issue of proceedings is the first step in the court process. Just because your case is issued at court does not mean that it will go to a final hearing. Cases can be settled at any point in the litigation process. If the parties reach an agreement, the court will be notified and the claim will be removed from the court process.
Do I need a solicitor if I am issuing court proceedings?
Technically, you do not need a solicitor to issue court proceedings. You can act for yourself and if you do this you will be known as a ‘Litigant in Person’. It is not advisable that you try and pursue a claim yourself if you do not have knowledge of the law relating to your case. Whilst the courts are sympathetic towards litigants in person when it comes to compliance with court procedure and time limits, if the case is not presented properly with the correct evidence it could result in your claim failing or being struck out by the court.
What happens after court proceedings are issued?
Once your abuse compensation claim is issued at your court, your solicitor will then need to follow the relevant civil procedure rules. Your solicitors will need to present your claim in a written format called the ‘Particulars of Claim’ accompanied by any medical evidence to support your claim. Your opponent will then respond by submitting a written ‘Defence’. The case will then be looked at by a Judge who will make any directions and set a timetable for the case. This usually includes directions for any further medical evidence, exchange of documents and also witness evidence. At this stage the Judge may also give an indication of when the matter should be ready to go to trial/final hearing.
Once proceedings are issued, there are strict time limits that apply to certain steps in the case and the judge will set dates by which certain things must be done.
Once proceedings are issued your claim is often referred to as a ‘litigated case’.
What happens at trial?
The trial is the final hearing. In compensation claims for abuse the trial will usually take place over 2 or more days. You and your solicitor will attend court and usually you will have appointed a barrister to present the claim to the Judge. In civil claims for abuse, there will be one judge who will hear the whole case and at the end will make a judgement. The judge will hear all the evidence from both sides.
What is an out of court settlement?
An out of court settlement is the term used to describe the situation where the parties to the claim (you and your opponent) reach an agreement to resolve your claim without having to take the matter before a judge at a final hearing.