Frequently Asked Questions
What does AO Advocates do?
AO Advocates brings civil claims on behalf of people who have suffered sexual abuse as children. This means that we act as your representatives throughout the legal process, which normally involves seeking monetary compensation from your abuser directly, and/or from any institution (such as a school or church) that employed the abuser during your period of abuse.
When I call AO Advocates, who will I speak to?
If I call you, will my details remain confidential?
Yes. As lawyers we are bound by strict confidentiality rules. We have a lot of experience dealing with potential clients who have never spoken to anyone else about their abuse. We will do everything in our power to ensure that you feel respected and protected.
The abuse happened a long time ago. Can I still claim?
We understand that the effects of childhood sexual abuse are enduring and that coming to terms with it can be an unpredictable process. Many survivors are unable to speak about it for decades. It can be harder to bring a claim if the abuse happened a long time ago, but many old claims can still succeed. Whether your claim is likely to prevail in law depends on all the facts, and we’ll conduct a careful investigation before advising you whether we think you should proceed.
How much will it cost me to bring a claim?
At AO Advocates we feel strongly that it should not only be those who have money who find justice. We will not charge you hourly, or expect you to pay large sums up front. For all our cases we work on a no win, no fee basis. This means that if we are successful in your claim, our fees will be paid by the other side. There can be some costs associated with bringing a claim. These might include, for example, paying a psychiatrist to evaluate the effect the abuse has had on your life. Most clients pay these directly, but not all and we are flexible. If you would like to speak with a member of our team about this further, please get in touch.
What does no win, no fee actually mean?
A no win, no fee agreement is one in which we, as your lawyers, receive our fees only if we have won a monetary award for you. Known inthe US as a "contingency fee arrangement" and the UK as a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA), this structure is intended to give you peace of mind. If you win your claim, the opponents will pay most or all of our fees and the other costs we have incurred on your behalf; the remainder may or may not be deducted from your award depending on the circumstances. In the UK, where unlike the USA the losing side in a lawsuit generally has to pay the legal costs of the winning side, we will also secure insurance for you, so that in the event that you lose your claim, you are protected from having to pay the costs the defendants have incurred.
What happens if the person who abused me has died?
The death of the abuser does not necessarily stop you from bringing a claim for compensation. If your abuser had access to you while working in an institution, such as a school, youth group or church, you may be able to bring a claim against the institution.
If I bring a claim with AO Advocates, would it punish the abuser?
The civil legal system does not ‘punish’ an abuser. Only the criminal law can put someone in prison. However, even in a civil case, an abuser can be ‘outed’ at trial and subjected to cross-examination, and may also be ordered by the court to pay you compensation, which can be a form of punishment.
Can AO Advocates help me put the person who abused me in prison?
We work solely on civil sexual abuse claims, i.e. claims for compensation. If your abuser is still alive, you will need to speak to the police about criminal charges. You can do this by contacting your local police station, or dialling 101. We will be glad to help you engage with the police about bringing criminal charges. If your abuser is found guilty after investigation and trial, it will then generally be easier for you to bring a civil claim because the offenses will have already been legally proven.
If you aware of an abuser who now has access to children, and you feel that they may pose a danger, please contact the police.