Here to help
This page has been created to help survivors of abuse learn what they may expect to get from lawyer. A visit to see a solicitor can be apprehensive for anyone. ACAL is deeply committed to making the relationship between the survivor and the lawyer as comfortable as possible. Indeed this was one of the main reasons for setting up the organisation in the first place. Our former Chair, Lee Moore experienced Satanic ritual abuse throughout childhood. Commitment to clients, together with a willingness to acquire knowledge and listen empathetically, are crucial requirements for members of ACAL.
Please remember that our organisation is not responsible for the individual actions of its members. By recommending a solicitor to you we do not hold them out as an expert. It is up to you to satisfy yourself as to the competence of the solicitor of your choice. We have now set up a panel with quality tests for each member. To go there now and find a panel solicitor please click here.
To ask a question or seek advice fill in our enquiry form Click Here.
Sadly we are no longer able to offer our training course in Court Room Skills because of changes in the law which has prohibited witness training for cases going through the Courts in England and Wales. We regret this decision. For help please consult the Crown Prosecution Service connected to any abuser trial you are involved in. To read the judgment in the case click here: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Crim/2005/177.html. The relevant paragraphs are 61 to 67.
For more information on the way in child abuse is carried out, and how it can be treated please watch this video produced by the Lantern Project. Warning, it is graphic. The Lantern Project provide training on the issue to anyone who wishes to make an enquiry.
Seeing a solicitor
A Solicitor is there to help you. These days they are usually very approachable. Do not be afraid. An ACAL Solicitor should be understanding and listen to you.
Legal Advice is normally free for a first short interview. You must ask your solicitor to clarify the position before you start
If you want us to help you find a solicitor contact us or fill in our enquiry form
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 Public Funding/Legal Aid go their site – Legal Services Commission).
It helps a great deal to put the main point 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.
Remember– 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.
Remember– 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.
Remember– you are likely to be treated with understanding by an ACAL member.
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. Your solicitor can no doubt point you in the right direction. See our links page for a list of groups.
Whilst a 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 a 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?
- The 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 will 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.
- The case is issued 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 psychologist).
- A solicitor at some stage will usually involve a barrister for help with documents. Usually 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.
The compensation is calculated upon a tariff scheme basis and is not generous.
The Board which is based in Glasgow, can and usually 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.
Records – According to the law you are entitled to see your personal social services file if it came into existence after 1989. It is also worth fighting to see your records if they came into existence before 1989
Tribunals – 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.