The long awaited independent enquiry into historical sexual abuse in England and Wales will open today.
The enquiry is already significantly behind schedule due to difficulties in identifying an appropriate Chair. Justice Lowell Goddard has the unenviable task of investigating the sexual abuse of children by those in Public Office.
The areas the enquiry may address include abuse in schools, hospitals, prisons and, perhaps most newsworthy, abuse by public figures including politicians.
It is hoped the enquiry will conclude within 5 years, but those in the know suggest that a 10 year time estimate is more realistic.
Over the next 10 years therefore, this area of law will be regularly in the headlines. Many thousands of survivors of abuse will come forward.
I was recently talking to someone close to the enquiry and concerns have been expressed at the number of potential claims that may now arise. If the enquiry establishes that abuse was commonplace in a public body, there are likely to be class actions brought and many new claimants coming forward. Recent developments in case law mean that it is easier to pursue a claim for historic abuse, notwithstanding the fact that a claim is often brought many years after the limitation period for issuing proceedings has expired.
There are so many potential claimants who may come forward as a result of the enquiry, but there are rumours of a possible statutory scheme on a similar basis to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority to specifically compensate the victims of historic abuse.
The next 5 to 10 years will be a fascinating period for lawyers specialising in this area of work. We are now one of the leading firms in the country specialising in this area and our Abuse Claims Department is gearing up to a significant increase in the number of claims we handle as the enquiry develops.
For the time being, we await with interest Justice Lowell Goddard’s comments today as to the scope and intentions of her historical child sexual abuse enquiry.
Farleys Solicitors are accredited specialists in abuse law, earning a reputation on both a regional and national scale assisting in numerous high profile abuse cases. For further information regarding the above story or to speak to a specialist abuse claims solicitor contact us on 0845 050 1958, alternatively please complete an online enquiry form.