Chris Saltrese Solicitors have provided a specialised service in defending contested allegations of sexual offences for over 18 years. This is because it is one of the most emotive and misunderstood areas of law where there is the potential for unfair trial and widespread injustice.
Since the Jimmy Savile allegations in 2012, this tendency has accelerated. As more complainants come forward, the pressure is greater on the police and Crown Prosecution Service to bring cases to trial no matter how insubstantial.
Many cases are historical, and depend only on the oral testimony of the complainant. Multiple allegations also proliferate, but may not be truly independent, rather they may be linked directly or indirectly to one or more complainants.
Other cases concern illegal images found on computers. While at first glance these may seem definitive, the fact is many images can be downloaded on computers without the knowledge or intention of the user.
Many of our clients have no previous experience of the criminal justice system and are shocked by the ease with which flimsy allegations are prosecuted. As law-abiding citizens they placed their trust in British justice to exercise good judgement and may have assumed previously that false allegations were rare.
At Chris Saltrese Solicitors we provide a tailor-made service for clients facing the daunting prospect of contesting allegations. Careful preparation and attention to detail is key. We press for disclosure of background evidence making sense of why the allegations may be made. Where relevant, we commission expert opinion. Close client liaison and case conferences with counsel throughout the pre-trial period ensure that all relevant aspects are covered prior to trial with a positive defence strategy prepared.
On the website we provide a guide to the numerous types of allegations and the pitfalls. Anonymised thumbnail case histories and links also provide further information.
Our specialist consultants include:
Margaret Jervis, who has researched and analysed contested sexual allegations for over twenty years in a legal and social framework.
Oliver Cyriax, a leading family law reformer and adviser, who leads expertise in computer-image cases. Oliver is a member of the Inside Justice http://www.insidejusticeuk.com/ expert advisory panel representing Chris Saltrese Solicitors.
We regret we are no longer able to represent clients at trial on legal aid. This is because changes in legal aid preclude the necessary detailed work with background evidence that we think is necessary for a robust defence. Legal aid fees are calculated on the basis of the prosecution case which may comprise only a small percentage of the material to be examined in sexual offence cases.
This means clients have no control over what work is done in defending their case.
However funding through legal aid, though it will be the only option for many, is means-tested and capped. Defendants may be required to contribute a substantial proportion of their household disposable income prior to trial without the assurance of thorough preparation covering all angles. Others may be denied legal aid because their income exceeds the cap.
Until 2012, privately represented defendants could expect their legal costs to be refunded on acquittal at Crown Court. Controversially the Government withdrew this option though it promised to review the situation in time. As of now the same situation prevails. However, in some circumstances a proportion of costs may be refunded if the disposable income exceeds the legal aid cap. In order to be eligible for this it is necessary to apply for legal aid and be refused.
Privately funded legal representation offers the following benefits:
- A first class defence tailored to your needs
- Client control over case preparation
- Liaison with senior trial counsel throughout the preparation and trial
- Preparation and strategy consultation with clients throughout
In order to ease the burden and worry of funding, we can offer a flat fee representation package covering the preparation and trial process. If you wish to discuss this option please telephone us on 01704 535512.
We want to give you the best possible service. However, if at any point you become unhappy or concerned about the service we have provided then you should inform us immediately, so that we can do our best to resolve the problem.
In the first instance it may be helpful to contact the person who is working on your case to discuss your concerns and we will do our best to resolve any issues at this stage. Making a complaint will not affect how we handle your case.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority can help you if you are concerned about our behaviour. This could be for things like dishonesty, taking or losing your money or treating you unfairly because of your age, a disability or other characteristic.
You can raise your concerns with the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
What do to if we cannot resolve your complaint
The Legal Ombudsman can help you if we are unable to resolve your complaint ourselves. They will look at your complaint independently and it will not affect how we handle your case.
Before accepting a complaint for investigation, the Legal Ombudsman will check that you have tried to resolve your complaint with us first. If you have, then you must take your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman:
- Within six months of receiving a final response to your complaint
- No more than six years from the date of act/omission; or
- No more than three years from when you should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint.
If you would like more information about the Legal Ombudsman, please contact them.
Call: 0300 555 0333 between 9am to 5pm.
Legal Ombudsman PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ