How does a case work?


We understand that deciding to take action against your abuser can be a daunting prospect, and sometimes the legal jargon can be confusing and off-putting.

Here we set out the key steps in bringing a legal case against a perpetrator of abuse, so you can understand the process.  Every case has its own individual aspects, but here is the basic road map.

At AO Advocates, we have a lot of experience advising adults who have experienced sex abuse by priests, teachers, youth leaders and others in positions of trust. 

We believe representing survivors of sex abuse is more than simply a legal mission.  We want to be advocates with compassion – to provide you a safe and understanding environment always. 

Should I report my abuse to the police?

Yes, this is important.  You want to protect others from your abuser as much as you can. 

In addition, if you do decide to bring a claim for damages against your abuser, it will be helped if the police have already prosecuted the abuser.

If the police don’t bring a criminal case against the abuser, the fact that a complaint has been made still helps.

How expensive is it to bring a case?


There is never any charge for an initial detailed consultation.  Some clients want to pay us on an hourly basis, but this is unusual.  We almost always represent clients on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis, using a Conditional Fee Agreement in the UK or a contingency fee arrangement in the US, in which case you will not have to pay anything out of pocket.  

What sort of evidence will I need to produce?

We will need to see any relevant records for doctors, social services, schools or organisations. These sorts of records can reveal a documented history of the effects of the abuse.

What other information or materials might I need to provide?

Depending on the case, we may wish to speak to witnesses who can help us build up a picture of how the abuser operated.  But often we can start just from the documentary record.  

What will I need to demonstrate to win my case?

We need to make out a good case that you were sexually abused, and that you have suffered as a result, either physically, psychologically, or in loss of income. 

What happens next after I have provided my statement and evidence?

Once we have assembled your case, we put it to those responsible – this can be the abuser him/herself or the organisation they worked for. For example, we have brought many cases against churches or schools that failed to protect our clients from a long pattern of abuse committed by one of their employees.  This is possible even if the abuser is no longer living.  

What happens if the perpetrator refuses to admit any wrongdoing?

If we are unable to get an admission of liability, it will usually be needed to file a case in court.  Sometimes these cases settle as they get closer to trial.  If not, the whole process can take several years, but this is unusual.  

Will I have to give evidence in court?

If the police bring a prosecution against your abuser, you will very likely have to give evidence against him/her in court.  

But most civil compensation cases settle without having to go to court.  

Will I have to pay for initial legal advice before deciding to proceed with a case?

We always provide initial advice free of charge and only take on your case if we think it has a good chance of succeeding.  Almost all our cases are on a ‘no win no fee’ basis, so you do not have to pay our fees.

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.

If you would like more information or to speak to one of our lawyers, please contact us on 01628 567 549 in the UK or (518) 633-4775 in the USA, or email