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April 3rd 2018

Abuse

Justice on horizon, but Shirley Oaks Survivors must be cautious in battle for compensation from Lambeth Council

Malcolm Johnson

Malcolm Johnson

Senior Solicitor, Abuse

Justice on horizon, but Shirley Oaks Survivors must be cautious in battle for compensation from Lambeth Council

Survivors of the Lambeth Abuse Scandal have spent years campaigning for their pain and suffering to be rightfully acknowledged by the authorities. Now, they can finally receive fast-track access to the long-awaited apology and justice they deserve.

Survivors of the Lambeth Abuse Scandal have spent years campaigning for their pain and suffering to be rightfully acknowledged by the authorities. Now, they can finally receive fast-track access to the long-awaited apology and justice they deserve.

Since 2 January 2018, a multi-million-pound scheme aimed at compensating survivors has been in operation. Interestingly, anyone who makes an application will only need to wait 30 days before receiving a decision – a great deal faster than in a civil litigation or a CICA claim, which can sometimes take years.

This swift access to justice and compensation is the result of the sterling work done by the Shirley Oaks Survivors Association (SOSA) and their negotiations with Lambeth Council.

Even though SOSA’s campaign centred on that particular home and Shirley Oaks survivors, the scheme actually covers all children’s homes in the Lambeth area. Those who have worked tirelessly on behalf of SOSA deserve praise for this significant achievement – and for the way they’ve represented the young people who were unfortunate to be past residents in Lambeth’s children’s homes.

However, despite the sterling work of everyone connected with SOSA, survivors should be warned that applying to this compensation scheme is far from easy.

Unfortunately, the clock is now effectively ticking too – because all survivors must come forward and submit a claim by 1 January 2020 at 5pm. For someone who has suffered with the psychological effects of this abuse for years, or hidden the memories away, this could prove traumatic or difficult to do.

Here at Hudgell Solicitors, we are already acting for around 40 former residents of the Shirley Oaks Children’s Home. By taking action on behalf of all these survivors as a group, it means there’s no need for all of them to give evidence or relive their traumatic experiences. If necessary, it also allows them to remain anonymous throughout the whole process, which is a great comfort to some.

If you or someone you know has been a blameless victim of this abuse scandal, please get in touch to seek the redress and apology you deserve.

How the Lambeth’s Children’s Homes Redress Scheme works

Anyone wanting to apply to the scheme themselves can find out more by clicking here, but below is an overview of how it will work:

Survivors who make an application will not just benefit from a compensation settlement. If requested, they can also receive:

  • A written apology
  • Access to counselling service
  • Access to advice on housing, welfare benefits, education and employment
  • A meeting with a senior representative of the Council

Under the scheme, there are also two types of settlements possible:

A Harm’s Way Payment: Made to applicants who were resident at a Lambeth Children’s Home and feared that they would be physically and/or sexually abused, and/or who were neglected and/or suffered cruelty whilst resident at a Lambeth Children’s Home where specified criteria is met.

The award depends on the length of time spent in the home.

More than 6 months: £10,000

3 to 6 months: £5,000

More than 1 week and up to 3 months: £2,500

Less than 1 week: £1,000

An Individual Redress Payment: Made to applicants who suffered sexual abuse and/or physical abuse and/or psychological injury at a Lambeth Children’s Home and/or Shirley Oaks Primary School (when specified criteria is met).

The scheme uses a tariff to calculate these settlements, arranged in ‘bands’, which reflect the severity of abuse suffered.

Survivors are given a ‘tally’ and each mark is reflective of a fixed sum of money, either £1,000 or £2,000 depending on the Band.

In band 1 – A single incident of a deliberate physical act causing physical injury which does not require medical intervention – you get a tally of 1 to 3 marks, with each one equating to £1,000 of compensation.

In band 3 – acts of serious sexual assault or physical injury with serious psychiatric illness – a tally from 20 to 50 is possible, with each one equating to £2,000 in compensation for a maximum award of £100,000.

Survivors who apply without the help of a solicitors are expected to look at and assess each band, and its description, to see which best befits their own personal experience.

Unfortunately, a failure to understand the legal meanings applied to this scheme could result in survivors receiving much less compensation than their pain and suffering deserves.

In my opinion as a specialist abuse solicitor with more than two decades of experience, it is essential that former residents who want to make a claim seek the advice of a suitably qualified and experienced solicitor, preferably one with direct experience of claims to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).

Thankfully, this can be done with no financial risk to the individual concerned because solicitors’ costs are paid over and above the compensation which will be awarded by Lambeth Council.

How Lambeth survivors can get free expert legal advice

As with any compensation scheme, an individual’s circumstances will heavily influence any potential legal redress or settlement they may be entitled to – and the information outlined above should not be considered as legal advice.

Should you want to obtain specialist legal guidance about the Lambeth’s Children’s Homes Redress scheme, please get in touch for free and confidential advice.

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