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Child Abuse Litigation

Providing assistance in cases of non-recent abuse

There are eight critical elements where WillisPalmer can assist defendant and claimant solicitors in cases of recent or non-recent child abuse claims.

WillisPalmer has a national network of expert social workers who can assist in cases when a claim is being made against an organisation in respect of potential negligence and the way a child care case was handled.

Our team of Independent Social Workers have a broad range of expertise and skills and can assist solicitors in terms of producing chronologies or conducting file preparation through to providing expert opinion on whether the care and protection provided was what could be expected for the time.

WillisPalmer has dedicated teams of expert social workers based in England, Wales and Scotland.

The eight areas WillisPalmer can assist in Child Abuse Litigation cases are as follows:

  • High quality full expert reports.
  • Preliminary Reports - to assist solicitors and the decision-making process.
  • Chronologies - producing a fair and balanced chronology.
  • File Preparation - organising and completing full record preparation.
  • Capacity to Instruct - our psychologists can advise whether your client has capacity to instruct on a case.
  • Expert opinion - our psychologists can provide expert opinion on the impact on children of failures in care.
  • Data protection - our experts can carry out risk assessments of data breaches to investigate the impact of the breach and how things could have been done differently using a CALS approach.
  • Coroner's inquests - when a child in care tragically dies, our experts can carry out an assessment to investigate how things could have been done differently.

As an independent organisation, WillisPalmer provides an impartial and neutral service to both defendant and claimant solicitors across the UK. Our reputation has been built upon expertise, integrity and impartiality.

Full Expert Reports

Our professionals at WillisPalmer are able to carry out expert full reports for defendant and claimant solicitors. Our experts read every single document that they are provided with and use their knowledge, experience and understanding of legislation relating to the case to produce a full report.

The expert has to judge the standards of care relating to the time of the allegations and provides full reference of the legislation, guidance and practice at the time. WillisPalmer also details the local authority’s duty of care and, as a result, solicitors are provided with full details of the context of the practice environment for the relevant period.

Our team of expert social workers have lengthy post qualification experience within a range of care environments. They therefore have direct knowledge of operating within many safeguarding systems both past and present.  Our expert social workers can carry out both preliminary reports, which are by definition, a brief report or a full expert analysis and report, both of which are subject to a robust quality assurance process and ensuring the highest standard of report.

An evidence-based report is produced with conclusions pinpointing any failures and detailing what a responsible body of social workers would have done differently. The report will then go on to state how, if that had been done, this would have affected the future trajectory of that child.

The report will answer in full the questions posed by the solicitor with the letter of instruction and include a full chronology to enable solicitors to ascertain a clear understanding of the child’s experience.

Preliminary Reports

WillisPalmer provides preliminary reports to assist solicitors and the decision-making process, clarifying whether a case has a reasonable prospect of success if pursued. The reasoning behind this is essentially two-fold.

Firstly, lawyers do not want to raise unrealistic expectations with claimants and defendants. Secondly is financial. Some claimant firms take cases on a CFA (conditional fee agreement) basis; more commonly known as ‘no win-no fee’. It, therefore, represents a significant investment in legal fees. Additionally, in order to allow claimants access to legal aid funding, the legal aid agency may need to see a preliminary report which indicates that there may be a reasonable prospect of success. 

Solicitors provide WillisPalmer with key documents up to 1,000 pages and our professionals provide an expert opinion based on those documents.

A preliminary report is a brief report which focuses on the essence of the history and whether there has been a breach of duty of care.

Head of Practice, Lucy Hopkins

Chronology

Examination, filing and sorting of case bundles (sometimes reaching over 20 lever arch files per case) require an expert social worker to sift, analyse and sort into a manageable form. Critically, this professional eye is essential to constructing a fair and balanced chronology.

For all Child Abuse Litigation cases, solicitors will require a chronology of events throughout the entire case. Some children may have been taken into care at an early age, and then spent a lot of their childhood in care; therefore, there can be a huge amount of documents to examine.

Once the files have been organised into date order and categorised, for example, into social work records, medical records and details of education and school records, the expert produces a fair and balanced chronology which will be presented to the solicitor and will provide them with a full idea of the claimant’s childhood.

WillisPalmer is an impartial organisation you can trust when commissioning us to undertake case record preparation or expert reports, you are guaranteed a high-quality report, completed to the best standard by practitioners with over 20 years’ experience. Chronologies are completed with four-weeks of instruction.

Preparation of case records

Local authority case records can range from a small bundle to 20 lever-arch files or more. These records vary largely in their content and layout, related to the time period involved and varying practices of local authorities.

Often, these records are complex and filled with jargon, abbreviations and poorly ordered. The records commonly contain what may on the surface appear to be repetitive documentation but which in reality are not.

Examination of these records requires a highly-experienced social work eye to sift and analyse the files into a manageable form, and be filed in good order and paginated with an index. This professional eye is essential to constructing a fair and balanced chronology in order to reveal a true and fair picture of the case. That is why all of our social work experts within the service are trained to organise and prepare such case records with support from administrative staff.

Capacity to Instruct

We have expert psychologists who will be able to advise and provide relevant reports and certification as to whether your client has the capacity to instruct on the case in question.

Expert opinion

Our highly skilled and experienced professionals can provide expert opinion on whether the care and protection given within a range of environments (whilst at home, in foster care, in residential care or in adoptive care) was what could be expected of reasonable social work practice for the time.

Data Breaches

WillisPalmer professionals can investigate where there has been a case of breaches to data protection and undertake a risk assessment to analyse the impact of the data breaches and to decide whether things could have been done differently.

Coroner's Inquests

Cases where children have died when they are in the care of a local authority are, thankfully, rare. however, when this occurs, our experts can carry out a risk assessment to look at whether things could have been done differently for that child while they were in the care of social services.

The Process

At WillisPalmer, we receive referrals for CALS by telephone 01206 878178 or email, or online.

On receiving a referral, we will send out the CALS Referral form to obtain the relevant information required in order to explore expert availability.

WillisPalmer will then provide a quote according to our graduated fees price list, which is dependent on the number of files there are, and we will explore expert availability.

Once an expert has been selected and we have the paper-work in place, we can begin immediately. Our timescales are six weeks for a preliminary report, and 8-10 weeks for an expert report, although these are negotiable with the Instructing Solicitor and the expert.

The Child Abuse Litigation Team

Social Workers

We have a dedicated and highly experienced team of social work experts all of whom have lengthy post-qualification experience within a range of care environments. The team can provide expert opinion on whether the care and protection given within a range of environments (whilst at home, in foster care, in residential care or in adoptive care) was what could be expected as reasonable social work practice for this time. Each report is subjected to a robust quality assurance process.

Psychologists

WillisPalmer has a team of expert psychologists who hold a diverse range of skills and experience in assessing and treating children and adults who have had adverse and traumatic childhood histories. Due to such levels of experience, we are able to provide experts within the spheres of clinical, forensic, counselling and educational psychology. Psychologists can provide vital opinion on the impact of adverse childhood experiences upon the adaptive functioning of children and adults in various elements of their lives. Our psychologists are well experienced in providing reports for use in legal proceedings.

Who are our services suitable for?

Our services are trusted and impartial:-

  • Defendent solicitors
  • Claimant solicitors

WillisPalmer covers the jurisdictions of England, Wales and Scotland. We have expert social workers that are registered to practice in these jurisdictions.

"I have instructed Philip King on a number of failure to remove cases and have always been very impressed with his knowledge of these cases. His reports are thorough and he has the great ability to grasp the issues in the cases from the outset. He is efficient and always able to assist with ongoing queries, which is of immense help. He is always my first choice for a social work expert.

Zahra Awaiz-Bilal, Associate, BBK
Working Together For Children

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