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.


Charles has considerable specialist experience in pursuing claims for compensation for those who have been abused in childhood. His specific expertise means that he is recognised locally, nationally and internationally for his work which has taken him all over the world including, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

He is also recognised for his significant involvement in the high profile litigation against St Georges School (Anglemoss Limited) and Cyntwell High School. These cases involved a staggering number of individuals who pursued those responsible whom despite heavily defending the claims brought against them settled by way of out of court settlements.

Charles regularly features in local and national press and he is often asked to provide his professional opinion and commentary on relevant abuse law issues and developments on radio and television broadcasts. Such broadcasts include BBC South Today, BBC Wales, ITV and ITN News.

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Charles obtained his Law degree at Kingston University, before successfully completing his Legal Practice Course. He trained and qualified with Verisona Law beginning his specialism in the field of child abuse claims. He received his higher rights of Audience in 2012 making him one of the youngest Solicitor-Advocates in the country who is able to represent his clients in the High Court. Charles is head of the abuse team who collectively have secured compensation for hundreds of victims of abuse.

He began diversifying in to other aspects of abuse law and his team are one of the very few in the country who specialise in claims against social services.

He is involved in complex group action litigation and also represents a number of individuals and who are pursuing private companies, local authorities and perpetrators in pursuit of their justice.

Charles has strong contacts with some of the most prominent barristers who advise on abuse claims including a number of QC’s. He also has robust connections with highly qualified expert witnesses he instructs in support of those who he represents.

  • Child abuse claims
  • Claims against social services
  • Complex/Catastrophic Clinical Negligence claims

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