Meet the authors—APIL Guide to Child Abuse Compensation Claims

Meet the authors—APIL Guide to Child Abuse Compensation Claims

Personal Injury & Clinical Negligence analysis: The latest article in the ‘Meet the Author’ series includes an interview with Richard Scorer who is head of the Abuse Team at Slater & Gordon and co-authored the APIL Guide to Child Abuse Compensation Claims (third edition).

What is your position and what do you do on a day-to-day basis?

I am the principal lawyer and head of the Abuse Law team at Slater & Gordon. I run the team with my colleague Kim Harrison. The team acts for several hundred victims and survivors of abuse around the UK, both in civil claims and in representation before public inquiries, particularly the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), where Kim and I have been heavily involved across most of IICSA’s investigations and hearings since 2017.

How long have you been in this role and what brought you here?

I’ve been working in this role at Slater & Gordon since 2014; previously I was head of Serious Injury at Pannone LLP, one of Slater & Gordon’s legacy firms. I trained at Pannone, qualifying as a solicitor in 1994. I became involved in child abuse litigation in the mid-1990s, initially through involvement in the North Wales Child Abuse Inquiry and then with involvement in some of the early cases against the Catholic Church.

Any memorable stories from your career so far?

Yes lots: acting for many victims and survivors of clerical sex abuse and helping to change the law in this area, acting for victims in the high profile child sexual exploitation cases, particularly Rochdale, and acting for victims of John Worboys, the taxi cab rapist. All the way through I have tried to push forward the boundaries of the law, and give my clients a voice and secure justice for them, while acting with integrity.

What are the key legal developments which are covered in the latest edition of the APIL Guide to Child Abuse Compensation Claims?

The law has moved on in respect of suing religious organisations, with favourable vicarious liability decisions for claimants. At the same time defendants have tried to fight harder on limitation, and with the decision in Poole Borough Council v GN and another [2019] UKSC 25 have tried to narrow the circumstances in which victims of abuse can sue local authorities for failure to protect them. So the legal landscape has changed a good deal since 2011.

What do you predict will be the main developments in this area of the law over the next 12–24 months?

The courts will need to interpret and apply the Poole Borough Council decision, so there will be case law on that. Defendants are increasingly trying to argue consent defences, so that is likely to feature too. As ever, limitation will continue to be a heavily contested area. And the increasing use of the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA 1998) may generate decisions on applicability and limitation under HRA 1998.

What are the main pain points for practitioners undertaking this type of work? How can the APIL Guide to Child Abuse Compensation Claims (third edition) help?

This area of law has become increasingly specialised and is now technically very complex. Don’t dabble: read the book, understand the case law which is examined in detail in the book and use specialist counsel (for example some of my co-authors)

If you didn’t have a career in the law what would your alternative career be?

Before getting into law I had a couple of false starts, I briefly contemplated a PhD in British political history and then worked as an investment analyst. Abuse law provides a lot of scope for campaigning work and if I hadn’t done law, then I suspect I would have ended up doing something political, or involving campaigning to change the law.

APIL Guide to Child Abuse Compensation Claims has now been published and is available to purchase here.



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