The claims process
When someone makes a claim against an organisation, it is a civil action governed by the laws appropriate to the country in which the claim is made.
The main parties involved in the claim are the claimant* (the victim or survivor of abuse who is making the claim) and the defendant* (the insured organisation).
As the claims process is a legal one, claimants and defendants or their insurers are generally advised by their own independent solicitors. We strongly encourage claimants to seek independent legal advice. The Law Society’s free Find a Solicitor service can be found here.
In England and Wales, claimants’ and defendants’ actions are governed by the Pre-Action Protocol, which forms part of the Civil Procedure Rules. Both Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own, but similar, Pre-Action Protocols, which we follow as best practice.
Put simply†, the general claims process in England and Wales follows these stages:
The claimant must issue a Letter of Claim to the proposed defendant, which has to include a number of key facts†
Once the defendant has received the Letter of Claim, they have limited time to acknowledge its receipt. For example, in England and Wales this is 21 days from the date the letter was posted.
The defendant or their insurer then has a further 90 days (beyond the 21 days) to investigate legal liability and inform the claimant of their decision as to whether legal liability is admitted or disputed and, if disputed, why.
Because PSA cases are often complex, claimants’ and insurers’ solicitors often make a mutual agreement to extend this 90 day period, in order to obtain the appropriate evidence.
Where legal liability has been established and the insurer has been able to value the claim, they will usually make an offer to settle. A meeting with the claimant and their solicitor may be suggested, with the aim of securing an acceptable settlement and resolving the claim as soon as possible.
If a settlement cannot be reached, the Courts remain available to resolve disputed claims.
*These terms may vary in Scotland and Northern Ireland
†You can find a fuller explanation of the claims process here.