Nigel Leat victims may have rise to compensation claims – Hillside First School

Harrowing cases of child sex abuse are being aired in the media almost every day.

Last month, Nigel Leat, 51, was jailed indefinitely for abusing children at Hillside First School in Weston-super-Mare. Leat, of Bloomfield Road in Bristol, admitted

36 sexual offences at Bristol Crown Court in May 2011.

A serious case review was commissioned after Leat's 2010 arrest at the instigation of the North Somerset Safeguarding Children Board. The review identified 20 pupils who were witnesses or victims of abuse by Leat, describing the failure of the school management as “lamentable”. The report revealed that 30 incidents were witnessed by staff but only 11 reported to the headteacher, Chris Hood, who failed to pass the concerns to the local education authority.

It's likely that a number of Leat's victims will bring claims against North Somerset Council, and ultimately its insurers, especially with the damning report finding significant failings in the school.

Legal aid is likely to be available in a some cases, but if this is not available then there are other funding alterntives such as conditional fee agreements.

The Limitation Act 1980 says that a victim of child abuse has three years from their 18th birthday to bring a claim before the courts, and if they fail to do so they are too late. Victims needs to have this in their mind should they be considering a claim for compensation.

The courts are taking an increasingly tough line with those failing in their duty of care to children. In October, a unitary authority was ordered to pay almost £320 000 in damages to four claimants who suffered “the most appalling” abuse at the hands of their father, after finding it vicariously liable for the negligence of social workers employed by its predecessor authority. The judge awarded sums to the claimants ranging from £59 476 to £155 487.

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Lisa has more than 20 years’ experience of dealing with Personal Injury matters ranging from road traffic accidents to workplace injury and liability. She offers a sympathetic and professional approach to her clients’ problems and advises on funding options (including insurance and Conditional Fee Agreements.)

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