Lawyers seek US-style damages for abuse at public schools

According to the BBC’s Home editor Mark Easton, a firm of top international lawyers intends seeking huge damages from British public schools where former pupils have suffered serious sexual abuse by teachers…

The British-American law firm AO Advocates has told the BBC it wants to see US-style compensation payments, suggesting some UK victims could be in line to receive awards of more than £1 million.

In the last few years, former teachers at scores of private schools, including elite institutions such as Wellington College and Ampleforth, have been convicted of sexually abusing pupils, crimes often committed decades ago.

A representative of the Independent Schools Council has said that it would be “very unfair” and a “great shame” if good schools were forced to close because of compensation payments relating to historical abuse.

“Traditionally people have been getting £30-50,000 damages in a child abuse case,” says Georgina Calvert-Lee, a senior barrister at AO Advocates. “We are looking at making 10 even 20 times that – even up to a million pounds.”

The lawyers say they will seek similar compensation for adults who have suffered long-term damage from sexual abuse to that seen in clinical negligence and discrimination cases.

“In the United States, if I was to represent a case of this kind, I could get a million pounds,” says Ann Olivarius, the American-born founder of the legal practice. “We think there is some wisdom on the other side of the Atlantic about how to handle child protection cases.”…

The prospect of American-style civil pay-outs toppling some of Britain’s ancient educational institutions will outrage some. Others will protest that only by demanding significant compensation can society properly value the life of a child.

More at: Lawyers seek US-style damages for abuse at public schools

What do you think of the prospect of US-style pay-outs coming to Britain in these cases? A concern if it threatens schools’ existences or no less than deserved by victims? Please give us your reactions in the comments or via Twitter…

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