Legal Business Blogs

Slater and Gordon, Eversheds and HSF take roles on Jay inquiry into child sexual abuse

Slater and Gordon, Eversheds, Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF), Kingsley Napley, BLM, Hill Dickinson, Farrer & Co and Weightmans are all among the firms acting on the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

The firms are representing ‘core participants’ in the investigation, led by Professor Alexis Jay (pictured), into decades of sexual exploitation and abuse by the UK establishment, according to IICSA documents seen by Legal Business.

Slater and Gordon principal lawyer for abuse Richard Scorer and head of abuse Liz Dux are representing a large number of the 152 initial claimants. The firm has previously stated it represents more than 800 victims of child abuse. Other victims are being advised by Brentford law firm Howe + Co, while Leeds firm Simpson Millar, Bindmans and Imran Khan are all representing core claimants.

A number of LB 100 firms are representing key organisations linked to the investigation. HSF partner Nusrat Zar, Eversheds key inquiries partner Peter Watkin Jones and Weightmans head of police Hannah Walsh are all acting on the investigation into the Anglican Church.

Farrer & Co partner David Smellie and Kingsley Napley partner Adam Chapman are both advising on the inquiry into the Roman Catholic Church.

Other firms are advising insurers on reparations, Hill Dickinson partner Alastair Gillespie is representing Royal Sun Alliance and Browne Jacobson partner Sarah Erwin-Jones is acting for Municipal Mutual Insurance, while Zurich insurance has retained HSF disputes partner Andrew Lidbetter.

The potential cost and scope of the inquiry has raised eyebrows within the legal profession, with IICSA set to run 13 separate investigations. IICSA has spent around £3.2m on legal costs during its first year for 2015/16 and the former chair of the inquiry, retired New Zealand judge Dame Lowell Goddard, was retained on an annual salary of £360,000, before her resignation this summer. New chair Jay, who is the fourth head of the inquiry takes home a salary of £185,000 per year.

One senior lawyer acting on the inquiry told Legal Business that although the inquiry would be a challenge to run successfully it was not impossible: ‘You would have to have a very imaginative approach and have hugely strong leadership and a really crack legal team. The chair is not a lawyer, I just don’t know if that could be a problem.’

Fieldfisher public and regulatory partner Martin Smith is acting as solicitor to the inquiry, while the inquiry’s lead counsel Ben Emmerson QC of Matrix Chambers was suspended from his role in September.