Sunday, 16 October 2011

How catholic are the Catholics when it comes to compensation?

According to Wikipedia, catholic means, "including a wide variety of things; all-embracing". This is certainly not the experience we are used to, as lawyers, in closely fought, and contentious child abuse compensation litigation. One of our Group Actions, is just settling after 15 years of hard fought, narrow, technical, frustrating litigation, where the wearing down technique has been used on our clients by the insurers of the Catholic Church. By the time they are offered a pittance to go away, they are so fed up that they will take anything.

One of my clients was sweet enough to want to hug us, bring us some sweets, and be very effusive of his praise, so relieved was he for it all to be over. Such a reaction is not typical of the way in which our clients feel. Some cases are still going on after all this time, as the insurer solicitors continue to battle with us.

I was roused to write this blog after reading Graham Wilmer's article in the Guardian last Friday. I know all the survivor group representatives referred to. I have discussed the process with Graham, and understand entirely the frustration he must feel.

One part of the package - counselling and support is no good in isolation. Religious platitudes are admirable, but not to a victim, who has lost faith, understandably, in religion.

There is a glaring conflict of interest, when the organisation who "employed" the abuser, also tries to offer support. All trust has gone, and anger bubbles under the surface of the victim. It is like trying to put a sticking plaster on a ball of fire. Attempt it at thy peril.

One can imagine a pseudo confession when the priest attempts to forgive the victim's sins at the same time as trying to sooth the anger of him/her being abused by a priest. I would like to be a fly on the wall when it is attempted. I would not like to be the priest.

So should they have walked out of the talks as reported in the linked article above? Well one group left in disgust, and another didn't. So who was right? Well if the talks prove as fruitless as forecast by the Lantern Project and MACSAS then they were absolutely right, not to have wasted any more time. If, on the other hand, NAPAC, under the admirable leadership of Peter Saunders, succeed, then one has to admire their pertinacity.

If, however, the Catholic Church agree to, not only support the victim spiritually, but also provide a no fault compensation scheme, then may I say publicly that I will run naked up and down our local catholic church aisle during Sunday might be wise to say that I will do this on a without prejudice basis...that is the legal way of saying I am too old for such silliness...

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Bins or Legal Aid for the Poor and Needy?

Eric Pickles announced in time for the Labour Party conference that the government had found in a dusty corner £250 million at a time when the country is allegedly bankrupt so that we can have a waste bin collection each week, instead of once a fortnight. 

I heard this jewel on the radio and thought, wow, the Lord has spoken. We have been blessed with such a gift from the angelic host on high, the benevolent coalition government. I had waited all year for this news.

When you think that the same government - not the lovely Mr Eric Pickles but the demonic Mr. Ken Clarke is planning to wipe out the rights of the poor to get legal aid in most areas including community welfare, in order to make savings in the Ministry of Justice of £350 million. It is a drop in the ocean, yet the government have decided that the rights of the poor to get much needed legal advice are no where near as important as giving the public a bin delivery every week rather than once a fortnight.

If they can find £250 million in a corner for bins, why on earth do they need to take legal aid away. It just doesn't make any sense at all and makes my blood boil. It is just an excuse to enforce the government's obvious dislike for lawyers, at the expense of the poor and the needy claimant who has been the victim of negligence by the NHS. The message is that the government are above the law, and can injure patients without the recourse to rightful compensation.

As it was said at the TUC, the austerity policies of this government are just an excuse to make cuts that are endemic to conservative party policy.

So bins or the rights of the poor? Difficult one hey.........I think it is a load of stinking rubbish.

Eclipse Personal Injury Awards 2011

Amazingly we have got into the finals again of the Eclipse Personal Injury Awards 2011, which will be hosted at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel London on 24th November at a glitzy awards ceremony.

I am in the finals for Personal Injury Lawyer of the Year, and Paul Durkin is shorlisted for outstanding case of the year. Paul's case is AB v Nugent Care & GR v Wirral BC 29/07/2009 [2009] EWCA Civ 827, which clarified the law of Limitation in child abuse cases and afforded the opportunity for more victims of historic abuse to exercise their rights to claim compensation.

To view our other awards click here

So wish us luck!