Overview

Sexual abuse is a traumatic experience.

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse, you may want justice, compensation, or simply an apology. You may also want further advice and support.

Whether the sexual abuse suffered was by an individual or institution, you deserve justice. For many people, this includes the compensation you may be entitled to. While compensation can't undo the experience of suffering abuse, it can help you start to move on with your life.

Whichever course of action you choose, our lawyers have many years’ experience of working with survivors of abuse, and will always have your best interests at heart. You’ll find us sensitive to your needs, expert at listening, and thoughtful and considered when explaining the options open to you.

What counts as sexual abuse?

Sexual abuse includes any form of touching without a person’s true consent. In legal terms, that means knowing you have the right to say no, you understand the possible outcomes of saying yes, you’re not tricked into saying yes, and are of an age or mental ability to say yes. Sexual abuse can also include being watched or photographed naked, without consent.

If the victim is a child, is mentally impaired – whether permanently or due to alcohol or drugs – or is under pressure, it will be viewed as no true consent.

You can also take action for forced circumcision, male or female, if it’s against the law in the country it happened.

Rape and sexual abuse are serious crimes, and the police have officers trained specially to help you. However, you don’t have to go to the police. We may be able to help and can advise you in confidence.

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse in any form, you have every right to make a claim for damages, and we’re here to advise and support you through the legal process.  We will:

  • Speak to you in confidence;
  • Listen and advise;
  • Welcome a friend or family member to be with you;
  • Only do what you ask us to do; and

You are  in control – you haven’t started a process you can’t stop.


 

We can help

Our team of specialist solicitors have helped many people secure sexual abuse compensation. One of our team can offer you a free consultation to give you advice on making a claim. They can meet you at home, in our office, or any location you choose – or we can talk on the phone if you prefer.

Please don't feel worried or embarrassed discussing your claim with one of us. We'll deal with your case with great care and attention, and completely confidentially, to help you achieve the justice you deserve.

Our expertise

Partner, Alan Collins, leads our team of experts. Alan has helped many people who’ve suffered abuse with compensation claims and is one of the best-known solicitors in abuse litigation. Alan has acted in many high-profile cases, including the Jimmy Savile and Max Clifford abuse scandals. Alan represents clients in the UK and internationally and has worked on sexual abuse claims all over the world, including in Australia, Uganda, Kenya, and California.

Find advice

Key contact

Alan Collins is one of the best known solicitors in the field of child abuse litigation and has acted in many high profile cases, including the Jimmy Savile and Haut de la Garenne abuse scandals. Internationally, Alan works in Australia, South East Asia, Uganda, Kenya, and California representing clients in high profile sexual abuse cases. Alan also spoke at the Third Regional Workshop on Justice for Children in East Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok hosted by Unicef and HCCH (Hague Conference on Private International Law).

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The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA)

Hugh James represents various core participants at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse was set up in the wake of some serious high profile instances of non-recent child sexual abuse and because the government had some very grave concerns that some organisations were failing and were continuing to fail to protect children from sexual abuse.

IICSA’s remit is wide-ranging, but as a statutory inquiry, it has unique authority to compel both witnesses and any material it considers necessary in order to investigate where institutions have let children down in the past.

IICSA has, for example, examined the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches and is due to hold hearings in relation to the Jehovah Witnesses and other Christian denominations as well as other religions.

For more information on IICSA, please get in touch by clicking on the phone or envelope icons on this page.

The Jersey Redress Scheme for Abuse at Les Chenes

Opened in 1979 and running until the 2000s, Les Chênes was supposed to be a residential home for children with a remand function. However, the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry report noted that all residents – whether young offenders or not – were, “in effect, serving sentences” there.

Some former residents alleged that they were subjected to emotional as well as physical abuse whilst on remand at Les Chenes. Many say thet suffered psychological damage as a result of their experiences.

Hugh James represented over a hundred former residents in their case for compensation.

If you are a former resident of Les Chenes you might be entitled to compensation.

For more information on the details of the redress scheme, please visit our dedicated Jersey Redress Scheme page:

CLICK HERE

Where abuse can occur

Scouts or Cadets
 

If you were sexually abused whilst a member of the Scouts or Cadets, then please do contact us.

You might be able to claim compensation for the physical and psychological harm you suffered. We will be able to advise you.

We could also help you to claim compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

If you have not done so already we would advise you to report the sexual abuse that you suffered to the police.

If you suffered sexual abuse whilst you were a member of the Scouts or Cadets you may be able to bring a claim against the person who abused you or against the organisation you were a part of. It may even be possible to bring a claim against both the individual and the organisation. This will depend on the circumstances of your case.

Some restrictions may apply to your ability to bring a claim. For more information, refer to our FAQ section below. Alternatively, get in touch using the phone or envelope icons on this page to arrange a free initial consultation with the team. 

Armed Forces
 

If you were sexually abused whilst a member of H.M.’s Armed Forces,  please do contact us.

This could have been in any branch of the armed services including the reserves and TA.  

You might be able to claim compensation for the physical and psychological harm you suffered. We will be able to advise you.

We could also help you to claim compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

For more information about bringing a claim for sexual abuse against the MoD, please visit our dedicated page:

CLICK HERE

Jehovah's Witnesses
 

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse reported being in receipt of a large number of complaints in respect of child sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses UK.  This can only suggest, tragically, many have been subjected to abuse whilst practising within the Jehovah’s Witness faith.

The structure of the Jehovah’s Witnesses UK (and worldwide) has been analysed by the Court of Appeal in England and it has been found that liability can attach to the congregations for sexual abuse committed by members.  The abuser does not have to be an elder and neither does the abuser have to be a current member as long they were a member when the abuse occurred.

The structure of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is complicated and so is the law surrounding potential liability.  Therefore, it is important to take advice from solicitors who understand the structure of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, their practices, procedures and policies and importantly, the law regarding vicarious liability and negligence.

The abuse team at Hugh James has a proven track record in acting for survivors of sexual abuse within religious institutions and within the Jehovah’s Witnesses UK.  The solicitors in the abuse team understand the structure of the Jehovah’s Witness UK and the barriers to reporting sexual abuse which many members face.

If you have experienced abuse within the Jehovah's Witnesses UK, please get in touch using the phone or envelope icons on this page. 

Schools
 

If you were sexually abused whilst a pupil at school do contact us.

This could have been at a state, private or public school.

You might be able to claim compensation for the physical and psychological harm you suffered. We will be able to advise you.

We could also help you to claim compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

If you have not done so already we would advise you to report the sexual abuse that suffered to the police.

If you suffered sexual abuse whilst you were a pupil at school you may be able to bring a claim against the person who abused you or against the local authority in the case of a state school, or the owners of the private or public school. Many schools are insured and so the claim may be handled on their behalf by the insurers. This will depend very much on the circumstances of your case.

Some restrictions may apply to your ability to bring a claim. For more information, refer to our FAQ section below. Alternatively, get in touch using the phone or envelope icons on this page to arrange a free initial consultation with the team. 

In care
 

If you were sexually abused whilst in care as a child or patient please contact us.

This could have been when you were in the care of a local authority or a charity or,  perhaps, when in foster care.

You might be able to claim compensation for the physical and psychological harm you suffered. We will be able to advise you.

We could also help you to claim compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

If you have not done so already we would advise you to report the sexual abuse that suffered to the police.

If you suffered sexual abuse whilst you were in care you may be able to bring a claim against the person who abused you or against the local authority, or both. The law can be complicated and some cases are more straightforward than others. We would need to examine your case very carefully before advising.

Some restrictions may apply to your ability to bring a claim. For more information, refer to our FAQ section below. Alternatively, get in touch using the phone or envelope icons on this page to arrange a free initial consultation with the team. 

 

Your questions answered

What counts as sexual abuse?
 

Sexual abuse includes any form of unwanted touching, as well as name calling or internet contact, or using sex as a way of causing pain or humiliation. It can be a one-off occurrence or carry on over a period of time. It might have happened earlier in your life or still be happening now. If you have suffered sexual abuse, or you suspect someone else is being sexually abused, you should report it to the police, even if it was a long time ago.

Who can I make a claim against?
 

You can make a claim for sexual abuse compensation against an abuser, but also any organisation, institution or individual that failed in their duty of care to protect you from harm.

How do I make a claim for sexual abuse?
 

We'll help you gather the evidence you need to make a claim. To help, you should try to preserve all the evidence as best you can. Photograph injuries, print off internet logs, keep soiled clothing safe in a freezer bag, and keep details of all doctor's or hospital visits. Get the names and addresses of people who could be witnesses, including people you told about the abuse.

What if there are no witnesses?
 

The courts know that abuse doesn’t always happen in public, and that there may be no witnesses. In many cases, your description of the sexual abuse may be enough to support a claim, particularly if other cases are reported. If there has been a criminal conviction, this will provide even greater grounds for claiming damages. But even if your abuser has been acquitted of all charges, it does not necessarily mean you can't claim compensation.

Will I have to go to court?
 

In England and Wales, you have the right to remain anonymous throughout the prosecution and compensation process. If your case looks like going to court, you'll still have a chance to reconsider. If you want, we can arrange for you to give evidence by video link. However, it’s worth noting most sexual abuse claims are settled out of court.

Can I claim compensation for sexual abuse caused by a family member or someone I know?
 

Yes, as long as they have assets or money which you can sue them for.

Can I claim if the abuser is dead or has no money?
 

Yes, you can still apply for compensation under the government’s criminal injuries compensation scheme. When we advise you initially, we can tell you whether this would be relevant to your case.

Can I claim compensation for abuse that took place in an institution?
 

Institutions such as hospitals, care homes, schools and the church have a duty of care to make sure you are protected. 

If you were sexually abused by someone in a leadership role it is likely that the organisation would be liable but each case is different and so we have to examine the evidence very carefully to ensure that there is a liability.

It may be that the case has to be brought against the individual abuser, but much will depend on the evidence and circumstances of the sexual abuse. If there has been a conviction against the individual, that is likely to assist the case.  In the absence of a conviction, we have to look for evidence that supports the case because we have to prove the allegations. Not all cases go to court many are resolved or settled, but we always have to be mindful that we have to prove the allegations, and that is where our expertise comes in.

Many institutions are insured and so the claim may be handled on its behalf by the insurers. This will depend very much on the circumstances of your case.

Is there a time limit for making a claim for compensation?
 

The time limit for making a compensation claim is usually two years from the date the abuse took place. However, as these compensation claims are often sensitive, these times limits can often be extended, especially if there has been a recent police or other investigation. We can advise you on this.

There are different time limits, or limitation periods, for bringing a claim for compensation for sexual abuse suffered in childhood. Ordinarily, the time limit is three years from the survivor’s 18th birthday; so the claim should be brought before they reach the age of 21. Many if not the majority of claims are brought outside this time limit.

If the survivor is outside of the time limit for bringing a claim, it is possible to ask the court to waive the time limit or to extend it. Each request to waive the time limit is decided on a case-by-case basis. However, the courts are fully aware of the difficulties that survivors of sexual abuse have in disclosing abuse due to the trauma they suffered.

Can I claim for treatment costs?
 

Yes, the costs of treatment can form part of your compensation claim. We can also advise you about specialist help that might not be available through the NHS.

Can I claim compensation for sexual abuse that took place abroad?
 

ou may be entitled to compensation for sexual abuse that happened outside England or Wales, if:

  • the abuser is in, or from, England or Wales
  • the person who arranged or organised the abuse is in, or from, England or Wales
  • the person or the organisation the abuser worked for lives or is based, in England or Wales.

We've represented many clients living abroad and have successfully brought claims for sexual abuse based on the above.

If I suspect someone is being abused, what signs should I look for?
 

There may be emotional or physical signs. Emotional signs can include a change in appetite, depression, anxiety or avoiding intimacy. Physical signs of sexual abuse might include self-harm, bruising, physical pain, bleeding or even suicide attempts. Of course, these may be signs of something else rather than sexual abuse, and you should try talking to them first.

Will I have to go to court?
 

In most cases, you won’t. If a case had to go to court, we’d meet you in person to get your instructions, and do so in a place where you feel comfortable. You’d also have the chance to reconsider. If you wanted, we could arrange for you to give evidence by video.

Are the conversations we have private?
 

Absolutely. You have a right to confidentiality, so no one else will know what we discuss unless you tell them.

How much will it cost?
 

We can represent you on a no win, no fee basis, so there’s no worry about having to pay. We’ll explain in detail how it works.

We’ll do only what you ask us to do – you’re always in control and can stop the process at any point.

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