It can be hard to find the best solicitors to sue the police for you. Let me help with unbiased insider advice only a lawyer who specialises in actions against the police can give.
As you can tell from our website, we want everyone who might bring an actions against the police claim to be as informed as possible. But we know that giving you this guidance isn’t everything. You still have to deal with a solicitor one-on-one, and after reading these five tips you might decide to use another firm of lawyers. If you do, that’s fine by me because finding the best fit for you and your claim is the most important thing, even if that’s with another solicitor.
Why People Sue the Police
Suing the police is a decision you don’t want to rush because there’s a lot at stake. Depending on the case you might be seeking
- an admission of liability,
- removal of your DNA and personal data,
- correction of Police National Computer records,
- satisfaction if your police complaint was ignored, or
- some other kind of justice.
(Read our page on remedies in claims against the police to find out more.)
This makes “actions against the police” claims (as they are known in legal circles) unique. For that reason, your solicitor should have special skills and qualities.
Five Questions to Find the Best Solicitors to Sue the Police
In my opinion, there are five things worth thinking about to get the best solicitors to sue the police:
- What do you need?
I’ve put this first on purpose. It’s important to find the best solicitors to sue the police for you. Some questions you might want to ask yourself are:
- How am I going to pay for a solicitor to represent me? Am I eligible for legal aid (sadly, most people aren’t)? If so, do I want to use a legal aid lawyer? If not, does the solicitor offer conditional fee “no win no fee” agreements, or accept clients on a “private client” or before-the-event insurance funded basis?
- Is it important to me that I use a local solicitor because I need face-to-face meetings during office hours? Or doesn’t the solicitor’s location matter because I am more comfortable with letters, email, phone, occasional skype meetings etc., most of which can be dealt with at other times.
- Should I use a firm which only represents claimants? Or do I mind a firm which also represents defendant insurers?
- Would I prefer a “big firm” experience (where I may have numerous lawyers handling my claim under the guidance of a supervising solicitor), or a “small firm” one (where I am more likely to work with an individual solicitor)?
- Anything else that matters to me.
2. Are the solicitors you’re researching genuine experts in bringing compensation claims against the police?
Start narrowing your options when you know what you need from your solicitor. Check out the Law Society’s Find a Solicitor service for suggestions. It lists over 150,000 solicitors, and the information held there can help you with your initial search. (For an example, here’s my listing.) You could also ask family, friends, and other lawyers (if you know any), look at your potential solicitors’ websites, social media profiles, read case reports, etc. Find out as much as you can online about their skills before making contact.
This matters because some so-called “experts” in actions against the police are anything but. Funding changes to personal injury law which came into effect on 1 April 2013 have resulted in some lawyers, who previously only dealt with accident claims, branching out into police claims. While there is often an overlap between the two (because claims against the police often include personal injury assault claims), the law in civil actions against the police is extremely complex and different.
You’ll want someone who really knows their stuff or you might risk losing your claim. (Read what happened to a man who initially instructed a personal injury firm to handle his actions against the police claim here.)
- Do you think you can you work with the solicitor?
Taking action against the police is not easy. The police are very well funded (by the taxpayer!) and their experienced defence lawyers are determined to protect the reputation of their police force employers and the officers involved. The law and sympathy from the courts is often on the side of the police. Cases can take years and the financial stakes are high.
Bearing this in mind it is important to find a solicitor you can trust and work well with. Your solicitor will assemble a team of lawyers, experts, and other professionals dedicated to helping you win your claim. You will be expected to play your part with helpful co-operation and support.
Ask yourself if you think you will get on with the solicitor, potentially for years. Again, a personal recommendation will help, as will your online research. Read their online reviews, blog (if they have one), and social media posts. If the solicitor has done media work (tv/ radio) see if you can get hold of that. (Read this blog post for more on personality issues. They go both ways.)
- What’s their track record?
Even though cases rarely get to court, ideally, you will want a solicitor who has won at least one claim against the police at trial. This shows that they can spot a good case, and have the courage of their convictions to back it all the way. If they haven’t won any cases at trial, consider their overall experience and record of success.
Again, you could research any cases they report on their firm’s websites. I also suggest that you do a “Google” search to see if they come up in media reports, as some actions against the police solicitors’ websites are not kept up-to-date.
- Are they members of the Police Action Lawyers Group?
The Police Action Lawyers Group (“PALG”) was set up in 1991 and is a national organisation made up of solicitors, barristers, and other lawyers. This voluntary group shares information and best practices to help lawyers working in this niche area of law. Regular communication ensures that members have access to the latest legal decisions, influence government policy proposals, share knowledge with other organisations (such as Liberty and Justice) etc. This helps PALG members represent your interests as a claimant more effectively.
PALG membership is not essential but, in my opinion, it’s a useful indicator of your potential solicitor’s level of interest and involvement in compensation claims against the police.
More Help to Sue the Police
Armed with these tips and the information on our site, you will be able to
- understand the law to work out if you have a potential police claim,
- meet strict time limits for bringing police claims,
- decide how to fund your claim,
- prepare for your first meeting (by phone or in person),
- help your solicitor run your claim smoothly, giving you the best chance of winning and, most importantly,
- find the best solicitors to sue the police for you.