Today was one of those days which make this job worthwhile.
For the last 7 years I have acted for Client J in a claim for damages from the CICB/CICA following historic sexual abuse at the hands of a minister. It has been a roller coaster ride with refusals and knockbacks leading up to today’s Appeal hearing in Glasgow.
There was an initial refusal by the CICA because the application was out of time and then because it replicated an earlier application which had been refused over 20 years ago. An attempt to reopen on medical grounds was again refused before we were eventually able to persuade the CICB to allow the Applicant to appeal the original decision out of time.
When it finally looked as though we were making progress for this victim the CICA applied to the High Court to judicially review the decision to allow the out of time appeal. Mr Justice Kerr considered carefully the submissions of two respected Queen’s Counsel and ruled in favour of Client J.
What makes this case unique is that we are appealing an order refusing compensation made over 20 years ago. The case was heard today with Mr Louis Browne QC assisting the panel of 3 tribunal judges. The significance of the case is perhaps demonstrated by the presence in the tribunal of the lead judge of the CICA who wanted to sit in having never seen a hearing of this type before.
The Applicant has suffered lifelong psychiatric problems as a result of the abuse. Today was an extremely difficult day for him where he needed to explain the circumstances around his co-operation with the police investigation and his delay in coming forward. He relived painful memories. He received a fair hearing and full sympathy from the judges and Counsel to the CICB. The tears he shed whilst giving evidence turned to tears of joy when the judges allowed our appeal. He will now receive appropriate compensation for what he endured.
I have got to know Client J well over the last 7 years. Today was not about compensation. It was about being believed. It was about someone recognising what he had been through. It was about closure. Successful abuse claims bring victims far more than damages.
So today represents a victory for Client J and a case the like of which I have not seen in my 25 years of practice. We now have the more pleasant job of quantifying the claim and hope that Client J can move on. From a personal point of view it is by far the most complex historic sexual abuse claim of the many that I have presented to the CICA and the most satisfying result.