Lambeth Redress Scheme provides lessons for other local authorities, say abuse claims lawyers
The Lambeth Redress Scheme provides lessons for other local authorities looking for a way to face up to a history of abuse in their children’s homes and foster care, say specialist abuse lawyers who secured more than £1.5 million for survivors of abuse at Lambeth homes including Shirley Oaks.
Posted on 06 January 2022
Leigh Day solicitors, Alison Millar and Andrew Lord each represented a number of applicants to the Lambeth Redress Scheme and have concluded applications for 27 clients, securing a total of around £1.5 million in compensation to date. A number of applications are still ongoing.
The Lambeth Redress Scheme was closed on 1 January 2022 after four years of operation. It was open to survivors of abuse at Lambeth’s children’s homes to claim compensation without having to go down the route of traditional legal proceedings. Lambeth Council had admitted liability and waived the issue of limitation (the three-year time limit to bring a civil claim). The maximum award under the redress scheme was £125,000 and survivors could also receive an apology and other non-financial support from the council.
The Scheme was established after campaigning on behalf of survivors of abuse in Lambeth children’s homes by Shirley Oaks Survivors’ Association.
The cases which Leigh Day have concluded include a number which reached or exceeded the scheme’s overall cap of £125,000. Claims were also successfully made for aggravated damages linked to racism experienced in care, and an additional payment was agreed in a case where it was argued that the £25,000 cap on lost earnings would not sufficiently compensate the applicant.
In one case, a final settlement of over £100,000 was reached after an initial offer of £45,000 had been made.
Cases also included several applications on behalf of individuals admitted to Lambeth’s special units for disabled children, such as Ivy House and Monkton Street. These were some of the most vulnerable children in Lambeth’s care, including children who had no or very limited ability to communicate verbally. In one case a settlement of £85,000 was secured, which included compensation for the lost opportunities in education that had resulted from the abuse, which Leigh Day argued should be acknowledged and compensated for without discrimination for our client’s disabilities.
Andrew Lord, associate solicitor, said:
“The Lambeth Redress Scheme allowed many survivors who may not otherwise have brought legal claims the chance to obtain the recognition and compensation following their experiences in an abusive care system. The accounts we heard were harrowing at times, and it has been a privilege to help those who bravely came forward to obtain the redress which they very much deserved.
“While the redress scheme was not without its faults, it serves as a useful benchmark for more institutions and local authorities looking to acknowledge the wrongs of their past. It ought to encourage others to step up and to begin compensating survivors of abuse in a less litigious manner.”
“The Lambeth Redress Scheme has been important in providing remediation for eligible survivors of abuse. It is shameful that some other organisations, who are similarly culpable for appalling abuse, put the survivors through the trauma of attritional litigation. The pivotal role of the Shirley Oaks Survivors Association in campaigning for acknowledgement of and redress for the systemic abuse of children in Lambeth’s care homes must be acknowledged.”
Alison Millar works in the human rights department at Leigh Day, where she is the head of abuse claims