Abuse Law Expert Calls For Creation Of Compensation Fund For Sports Abuse Victims
The Law Of… ensuring survivors have access to compensation
Simpson Millar's Head of Abuse Law, Peter Garsden, is fronting a campaign to ensure that abuse survivors that suffered abuse at football clubs receive a fair amount of compensation for the failings of those with a duty of care to vulnerable children.
Due to the scale of the football abuse scandal that has been uncovered since former footballers waived their right to anonymity to speak out about the abuse they suffered as young players it is likely that civil claims will be brought against negligent clubs who failed in their duty of care and allowed abusers access to children without extensive vetting.
Peter, who is also President of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers (ACAL), argues that survivors of child abuse at football clubs may find it difficult to bring compensation claims against certain clubs, especially as many of those involved in the police investigations established since the scandal went public are smaller clubs who have since disbanded.
Chasing insurance policies for these small clubs is difficult, especially as many may not have had their own policy and if they had these are not traceable through the Employers’ Liability Tracing Office (ELTO), which was established as a response to a similar struggle for industrial disease sufferers who wished to bring historic claims against the negligence of employers that had caused their serious illnesses.
The ELTO has helped more than 20,000 sufferers of industrial disease trace insurance policies of companies that no longer exist, ensuring that funds can be secured that compensate the fact that they became ill during the course of their employment.
No such database exists for smaller football clubs; however there is a unique factor that differentiates football abuse claims from other areas of personal injury, a single regulatory body responsible for the sport across the country – the Football Association.
Peter's campaign calls for the Football Association's unique position to be leveraged to ensure that those who suffered abuse at a football club during their childhood can receive a fair amount of compensation to cover the physical and psychological harm caused by the club's negligent care.
This could be done, Peter argues, by charging a small fee to the FA and its membership, which can be collected when clubs renew their employers' liability insurance and placed in to a compensation fund used to settle any cases of child sexual abuse successfully brought through the Civil Courts.
A similar scheme was established by the insurance industry in 2015 for sufferers of mesothelioma, a type of cancer linked to past exposure of asbestos. Using the mesothelioma payment scheme as an example, Peter argues that it there is precedent for the establishment of the kind of compensation fund that he is calling for.
Explaining the campaign Peter said:
"This campaign is long overdue as we've dealt with numerous cases of abuse in sports clubs over the years and we often run in to logistical problems surrounding a lack of insurance policies or funds to ensure a fair amount of compensation for our clients."
"The particular issue in the case of smaller football clubs is that they just do not have the funds to pay out compensation claims themselves and often do not have traceable insurance policies that can pay out for their negligence."
"Ultimately this leaves abuse survivors once again facing an uphill struggle as they cannot recover a fair amount of compensation for the negligence of the clubs and indeed the FA itself, both of which failed to ensure the children in their care were protected from harm."
"Our intention with this petition is to bring the issue in to the public spotlight, as we must debate the topic urgently and begin the process of compensating people for what clubs and the FA allowed to happen during those lost years."
You can sign the petition to ensure that football abuse victims receive fair compensation by clicking here.