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Claimant sues legal services commission for funding " paedophile" defendant

6 October 2011

We often act for agencies that have employed people who are accused of abusing children. For the most part these agencies are publicly funded local authorities. The claimants themselves frequently have Legal Services Commission (LSC) certificates, which means both claimant and defendant are publicly funded.

A recent change in the law means that more and more claimants are suing their abusers direct, particularly when it is difficult or too expensive to demonstrate any local authority involvement/negligence. In EB v Haughton although the criminal court had found the abuser not guilty the Judge in the civil court found the alleged abuse had taken place and had caused the claimant injury and loss worth over £30K. It now transpires that Haughton had also a LSC certificate which paid his solicitor’s costs and means it is difficult for the claimant to enforce her award and her £111,000 costs ( I bet she was on a CFA). She has decided to sue the LSC. As far as we can make out, the claimant’s case is that the LSC owed her a duty of care not to fund an unmeritorious defence. We would be most surprised if this claim succeeds, but we do expect more claims based on the actions of individuals to focus on institutional defendants such as local authorities, schools and charitable organisations who will be seen to have larger pots of funds then the abusers themselves.

Could publicly funded institutional defendants bring similar claims against the LSC? Watch this space.

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