High Court rules that the Catholic Church are liable over priests

The High ourt has ruled the Roman atholic hurch can be held liable for the wrongdoings of its priests. This is a decision that is welcomed by laimant Solicitors as it does not allow for the atholic hurch to hide behind curtains and evade liability. Mr Justice Macuff gave a decision in favour of a woman, who claims she was sexually assaulted as a child by a priest of the Portsmouth iocese. The woman, now aged 47, alleges she was abused by the late Father Wilfred Baldwin at a Hampshire children's home. The judge said the Portsmouth iocese "may be vicariously liable" for Father Baldwin's alleged wrongdoings. It is the first time a court had been asked to rule on whether the "relationship between a Catholic priest and his bishop is akin to an employment relationship". The NSP has welcomed the ruling and said it will look closely at the wider implications. Jon Brown, from the children's charity, said: "ll organisations that work with children have a clear responsibility to ensure their safety. Religious organisations are no different. "This is a ruling in favour of children and rightly places the responsibility on the Church to ensure that they select and monitor priests carefully and have robust procedures in place to take steps to protect children when there are concerns."The Church had claimed it could not be held vicariously responsible because there was no formal employment relationship with its priests.  The formailities of a contract and contract law have in the past enabled the Church to evade liability and pass the onus on to the individual.

But Mr Justice Macduff decided the professional relationship between a priest and his bishop was sufficiently close so as to impose responsibility. A decision we agree with.  The implementation of a role, the Church attire provided, and often a residence and monies for food are supplied by the Church for Office Holders is sufficient to show a professinal relationship between the parties. The woman claims she was sexually abused and raped by Father Baldwin, who died in 2006, when she was resident at the home in the 1970s. Lord Faulks Q, for the defendants, said the atholic hurch "takes sexual abuse extremely seriously and it is entirely concerned to eradicate it". The hearing to determine the Church's responsibility took place in July, but judgment was withheld. he trustees of the Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust were given leave to appeal. A statement issued by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth said: "he diocese is committed to creating a safe environment for all. "By adopting the Catholic Church's national safeguarding policies and procedures, and through its safeguarding commission, the Diocese of Portsmouth works hard to ensure the welfare of children and vulnerable individuals within the diocese.


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

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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."
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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
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"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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