Times Online - U.K. May 6, 2009
by Ruth Gledhill: analysis
The level of the claim to be made by Patrick Raggett is the clearest indication yet that damages for abuse cases in Britain could rise closer to US levels.
Because of the different legal systems governing compensation cases, damages are unlikely to be as large as in the US, where in February the US Northwest Jesuit Chapter filed for bankruptcy, citing civil lawsuits resulting from allegations of clergy sex abuse. But it still reflects a trend that could have far-reaching consequences for the finances of the Church.
Mr Raggett’s case is one of the first involving a case of alleged Roman Catholic abuse to reach the courts since the victim of the so-called Lotto rapist opened the way in January last year for thousands of other victims of sexual assault to claim compensation.
She and five other victims of child sex abuse won the right to sue when five law lords overturned a judgment made fifteen years earlier, ruling that courts have the discretion to extend the six-year limit.
Carlton Rae, Mr Raggett’s solicitor, said that he already had six witnesses who had come forward after publicity last week about his client’s case. “I would be surprised if other victims do not come forward,” he said. “With these perpetrators, it is never a one-off.”
Richard Scorer, from Pannone and Partners, in Manchester, who has also handled dozens of child abuse claims against the Catholic Church, said: “Awards in this country are decided by judges rather than juries. Judges are more case-hardened than juries and less inclined to allow their horror at the events to impact on the level of damages they award.”
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