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Anyone can claim for compensation where they have suffered an injury at the fault of someone else. Therefore in short, yes children can make a claim.
However, that is not the end of the answer and it certainly wouldn’t make for a very interesting article to read!
Children under the age of 18 are deemed to lack the necessary mental capacity to enter into legal contracts. A child cannot directly instruct a Solicitor to act on their behalf.
This can be overcome if the child has a ‘litigation friend’ who is over the age of 18. The litigation friend can enter into the necessary contract of instruction on their behalf.
They will normally be a parent or guardian of the child.
The litigation friend gives instructions to the Solicitor and will give instructions to settle the claim when appropriate.
Normally, once a settlement is agreed upon, the compensation is paid to the client and the claim is brought to an end. However, in cases involving children, the Court will need to approve the settlement figure. This is to ensure that the litigation friend has settled on the best terms.
This involves a short Court Hearing at the Client’s local Court, normally lasting around 20 minutes. The child is normally present. Depending upon their age and the sensitivity of the case, however, this is not always required.
The Judge will normally hear the Request for Approval of the settlement in his chambers. This is a separate room to the Courtroom and the Hearing is much less formal.
The Judge will assess the evidence and once satisfied, will approve the settlement agreed. This results in the compensation being paid by the defendant into the Court Funds Office whereupon it stays, gaining interest over time until the child reaches the age of 18.
Once the child reaches the age of majority, he or she can apply to their local court for release of the monies held in their dedicated account.
It is always worth bearing in mind that the money held by the Court Funds Office can stay there for a long time. Some practical advice would be to always ensure that you notify the Court if your address changes so that they can contact you should they need to. Also, any court documentation showing the Court claim number that your Solicitor provides to you should be kept alongside the child’s birth certificate, to ensure that you can locate it when the child turns 18.
Should you wish to discuss claims on behalf of children, please fill in our contact form here to arrange a consultation.
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