Charles Derham - Verisona Law featured in the Portsmouth News - Young lawyer dedicated to helping victims of sexual abuse

A smartphone in front of us lights up and vibrates its way across the table. It’s a news alert. I glance down and relate the subject matter to Charles Derham. Two damning reports have concluded that politicians, civil servants and NHS managers gave Jimmy Savile free rein to sexually abuse 60 people, including children as young as eight, over 20 years at Stoke Mandeville hospital. Charles nods. ‘I’ve got six cases against Savile,’ he says. He also has 194 other ongoing files. Each one is an excruciating tale of alleged child abuse, sexual and/or physical. he solicitor/advocate is an expert in abuse law. His job takes him around the world and his mission on a no-win-no-fee basis is to win compensation for his clients, the victims. ‘The money is not what matters to most of them,’ he says. ‘It’s what it symbolises – an admission, finally, from those who had a duty of care, that the client was abused. ‘That brings closure. Finally. Often after many decades.’ Most of his work leads him to take on big organisations such as education authorities, councils, the NHS, private schools, the Scout Association, those who were ultimately responsible for the depraved behaviour of an employee or representative. He says he has several current cases involving Hampshire County Council. Charles has been doing this work for the past six years, leading the small but perpetually busy Child Abuse Team within the firm of Portsmouth solicitors Verisona Law. ‘There was a fair amount of work when I started, but then came Savile and our workload increased fivefold. ‘Suddenly child abuse was much more out in the open. Victims felt they were able to talk and wouldn’t be ostracised or ignored if they did. ‘It opened the floodgates and the number of cases has avalanched. Savile has been a watershed.’ Charles is just 27. He’s of the social media generation and garners much of his work through his Facebook and Twitter accounts and his readable blog on the Verisona website. ‘That’s another reason victims now feel they can express themselves – the ease with which they can use electronic media to write it all down, press a button and send it to me. ‘There’s no awkward ’phone call; no plucking up courage to walk into a solicitor’s office to explain. I will then go to meet them at a place of their choosing.’ Those ‘places’ have taken him to Australia, New Zealand, Florida and Norway to name but a few. ‘Next week I’m in Belfast seeing a chap,’ he adds. Charles was about 10 when he decided a legal career was his goal. Brought up at Cowplain, he moved to Waterlooville and went to Cowplain Community School before four A-levels at South Downs College and a law degree at Kingston University, Surrey. He took the Legal Practice ourse at the College of Law in Guildford and passed his Higher Rights of Audience qualification in early 2012. This means he can represent his clients in the High Court – one of the youngest solicitors in the country to earn that right. ‘I was at the tail end of junior school and I just knew law was the right course for me. ‘I love arguing. I love researching something complex. I love getting my teeth into something. ‘I once spent three days in Cardiff going through microfiche after microfiche hunting for a newspaper article about a conviction. I had no idea when it had happened, but I found it and that perseverance enabled me to settle 24 child abuse cases. Yes, you could say I’m driven.’ Originally, Charles envisaged a career in commercial law ‘intellectual property law, international trade – that kind of thing’ he says. ‘I fell into the child abuse niche by accident. I was in the right place at the right time and I enjoyed the challenge of going back in time and trying to track down the perpetrators. ‘However, nothing could have prepared me for some of the things I’ve heard – the most horrific stories imaginable. ‘Of course I feel like I’m a counselling service. Often a client will say ‘‘you’re the first person I’ve ever told about this’’ which puts a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. ‘People sit in front of me and break down. You can’t help but be affected.’ Charles adds: ‘I’m a civil lawyer, not a criminal one. It could be that the criminal prosecution in a case has been completed and the client doesn’t feel they’ve got what they want, or don’t know where the perpetrator is now, or whether he is dead. ‘They want closure which means pursuing those who were ultimately responsible for them, the people who were meant to be looking after them. ‘I tell them I’m unlikely to get an apology because councils or institutions don’t like apologising as it could open the floodgates. ‘The best I can do for a client is force these organisations to settle out of court to avoid the publicity. But this still hits them where it hurts, having to pay out five or six-figure sums in compensation.’ Charles’s work is intense and emotionally draining. ‘There are days I reach a point where I have to switch off mentally and literally. I turn off the mobile, go home to Horndean and take the dog for a walk. ‘I suspect if I sat in the office at Waterlooville and thought about everything I’d been dealing with, it would slowly eat away at me.’ He admits the Savile case ‘changed my world’, saying: ‘There were indications something big was coming, but everyone in the profession was in awe of the number of people hiding what had happened to them. Savile was the igniter for people to come forward and talk.’ LINK BELOW

Lisa has specialised in childhood abuse and social care negligence for the last 8 years and has extensive experience in relation to civil abuse litigation, CICA claim maximisation and Redress Scheme claims. She offers a sympathetic and professional approach to her clients’ problems and advises on funding options (including insurance and Conditional Fee Agreements.)

Since 2018 she has travelled around the country to see clients who were failed by Lambeth Council during their childhood in order to collate evidence for submission to the Lambeth Children’s Home Compensation Scheme. Lisa’s style of working is tailored to providing emotional support whilst applying the specialist legal expertise required to ensure her client’s have the best evidence for making a successful claim.

Lisa is able to access key psychiatric and social care experts to obtain evidence and therapy recommendations for clients. She can direct clients to treatment providers if required. Often such treatment costs can be claimed as part of the compensation process. This is a priority to ensure her clients have the best opportunity to make positive steps into the future. Lisa excels in applying questions to psychiatric experts to clarify and ensure they have a deeper understanding of the case issues where required. She is also experienced in negotiation to maximise outcome according to specific scheme terms.

For the last year and half, Lisa has been leading the firm’s participation in the National Abuse Inquiry specifically relating to the IICSA Lambeth investigation acting on behalf of 6 core participants. Such work involved the preparation of core participant applications, section 40 funding applications, detailed consideration of social care record evidence, witness statements preparation, attending preliminary hearings for consideration on the extent of other key party involvement, detailed work on documentary disclosure evidence from the council, police and other core participants to identify deep seated failings within the past care and policing systems, cross referencing, and work with counsel on composing Rule 10 questioning of corporate and police witnesses giving evidence at the IICSA Lambeth hearing. Lisa also accompanied a key core participant giving evidence to the IICSA hearing providing support and understanding to ensure her client’s evidence was sensitively taken into account when the panel make recommendations to protect children in the future. Questions were raised on the effectiveness of the current Serious Case Review system and how this has been operating within police and council’s across the country, something which has also been identified whilst working on specific civil cases. The hope is that improvements in the child protection mechanisms can ensure the safety of children in future.

Lisa also specialises in CICA claims, an area of work which has increased significantly following the lifting of the pre 1979 same home abuse rule which facilitated many victims being able to finally achieve justice relating to serious childhood abuse.

Lisa also has extensive particular experience in running civil claims relating to foster carer abuse, abuse in private/public/approved school institutions, church abuse, and abuse linked to gymnastics.

Her extensive knowledge of the Civil Procedure Rules, skills in evidence gathering and analysis of liability and causation, and experience in risk assessment and settlement negotiation make her a valuable asset to clients and colleagues alike.

Lisa has more than 20 years’ experience of dealing with Personal Injury matters ranging from road traffic accidents to workplace injury and liability.

Lisa is fluent in German and Persian. She also has experience in Civil Litigation regarding Debt Recovery, Breach of Contract, and Insolvency Law

Client testimonials

"Lovely, friendly, great people. Very understanding too and very good at what they do. Very happy with the result, many thanks again Lisa and everyone involved in my case."

"I would like to express my profound heartfelt gratitude to Lisa Gafarov for all her hard work and understanding when representing me. She fought passionately for my case for two years.

Within this time, never once did I feel it was about the money for her. She was very considerate and dealt with many personal matters in a caring and professional way. It was a very sensitive case but she put in a lot of hard work and went the extra mile each time. Her wide range of expertise was indispensable during this difficult time. Because of this I trusted all her advice and as a result, this took a lot of pressure off of me.

She managed to reach a very amicable conclusion between the defendants and myself. You don’t know how much your passion impacts the lives of others. For this I am forever grateful. I would recommend your firm a hundred times over."
Anonymous, April 2019

Lisa studied ‘Contract Law, European Law and Employment Law’ as part of her degree in BA (Hons) Business Administration. She has also studied other business subjects, including accounting.

Having completed her degree, Lisa started work for Verisona Law in November 1999 in the Personal Injury department as a Trainee Litigation Clerk and since then has developed extensive skills in relation to personal injury litigation and case preparation.

  • Road traffic accidents
  • Accidents at work
  • Slip and trip claims
  • Occupier’s liability claims
  • Product Liability claims
  • Industrial disease claims
  • Work related upper limb disorder claims
  • Clinical negligence, including amputation claims
  • Cosmetic surgery claims
  • Abuse claims

"Thank you for all your much appreciated hard work. I will truly never forget your kindness towards me. Your patience, respect and understanding at all times was beyond words. The sincere compassion shown meant more to me than words could ever express. This firm will forever hold a special place in my heart."


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