Francis Hanna & Co set up legal clinic for survivors of abuse in Fermanagh

Martin Hanna

17 September 2020

Dr. David Morrison, Practitioner Psychologist, has published an article in today’s Impartial Reporter urging victims of historical abuse to consider redress though civil courts and sharing Francis Hanna & Co’s new legal clinic to assist victims.

 Dr Morrison states:

As I wrote in The Impartial Reporter last November, fewer than 10% of abuse victims secure a conviction. This is partly because the case must be proved ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, which is especially difficult for historical abuse.

In civil action, a lower burden of proof is required. The victim need only prove that it was more likely than not that the abuse happened. Success rates for civil claims are therefore much higher than in criminal cases.

Civil claims can be made against individuals, businesses or organisations such as schools, care homes, churches or other institutions. There will be some cases where civil claims can’t be made - for example, where the individual or organisation doesn’t have any assets or insurance to claim against. However, each case needs to be considered on its own facts and merits.

Over the last few months, I’ve been discussing the situation in Fermanagh with legal experts who specialise in taking civil action for survivors of historical abuse. As a result of these discussions, a law firm in Belfast who have acted in abuse cases for many years - Francis Hanna & Co - has agreed to set up a weekly telephone legal clinic for survivors of abuse in Fermanagh. This clinic will run every Tuesday from 9:30am to 12:00pm beginning 22nd September.

During this time, you can contact Laura Banks or Lucy Kelly by telephoning 028 9024 3901. Alternatively, you can email or and request a call back.

If you are a victim of abuse, civil action can be taken alongside or instead of a criminal prosecution. If your case is being investigated by the PSNI or you haven’t reported it to the PSNI, you can still begin civil proceedings. Likewise, if a police investigation has already concluded - with or without a prosecution - a civil action may still be possible.

If civil action isn’t an option in your case, the legal clinic can explain what other options are available to you, such as submitting a claim under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.

A successful civil action or compensation claim can never compensate someone for the suffering they have endured. However, it can bring closure to a painful past and open up a more positive future. And after decades of waiting, it can be the justice that victims deserve.”

Martin Hanna, Senior Partner, Francis Hanna & Co said “It is, of course an understatement to say that no amount of money can ever compensate an individual for a childhood lost through abuse and the life long suffering that such abuse brings. We know that the impact of abuse is not “historic”- victims live with it every day for the entirety of their lives. That being said, we know only too well that civil claims can make a positive difference to peoples lives going forward.

We know that victims of abuse have been let down by the people who abused them and the institutions that were supposed to take care of them. They may feel let down a second time, by the criminal justice system. I want to ensure that their legal advisors do not let them down again and that is why we are committed to advising each client as best we can and dedicating a time of the week that they can call and speak to someone who understands the nature of what they have been through and can provide sound advice on the merits of any case they might bring.”

For any enquiry in relation to historical or sexual abuse in Fermanagh or otherwise, contact us on 028 9024 3901 or by email