Why Kelso Lawyers might not be able to take on your case


If we have declined your case, we want to explain that it’s not without cause.

We understand how it feels to share your story – especially for the first time. Peter in particular knows exactly how hard it is to confront your demons, reopen your wounds and ask for help.

The team at Kelso Lawyers is passionate about achieving justice for victims of child abuse. We truly would like to accept every single case.

Unfortunately, sometimes it’s just not possible.

If your case is declined, we want to assure you that we make this decision based on sound reasons.

We might think your case is not winnable or we may have a legal conflict of interest compounded by the fact we are contacted by thousands of people related to these circumstances over previous years.

We want to help you understand why we have to decline some cases and why these decisions are necessary to give the victims we do represent the best possible results. Read on.

The Kelso Lawyers Difference

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There are two critical factors about Kelso Lawyers central to our decisions on taking a new case:

  1. Kelso Lawyers is a private law firm.Our firm employs and trains a number of solicitors and staff across our Sydney and Newcastle offices. Our Director, Peter Kelso, has invested and risked a significant amount of his own funds to build a successful law firm. Kelso Lawyers has grown to the point where the firm is capable of handling many cases and winning substantial sums of compensation against very big and powerful institutions. None of this would be possible if we took on every case we were asked to.

    Peter and the team have developed streamlined systems and implemented expensive technologies to give Kelso Lawyers the edge we need to compete with these powerful institutions.

    We cannot afford to risk these valuable resources on cases that have poor or no prospects of winning. If we did, we would cripple our chances of achieving justice for any victims at all, and we work hard to make sure you – as the victim of such harrowing abuse – are not traumatised by another letdown. Our continued strength and success enable us to keep the best lawyers and the best support team passionately fighting for you.

  2. We are not funded by the government.

    We are not public lawyers working for a Community Legal Centre. Public lawyers work for a set salary and work a limited number of hours. Private lawyers (like the team at Kelso Lawyers) have financial incentives to achieve the very best result for our clients.

    Our costs agreement is ‘outcome based’. This means if we lose your case, we get nothing – but when we win, the bigger the award for you, the bigger our fee. Our reward is completely and directly proportionate to your result. If we are unsuccessful, we get nothing. We structure our fees this way to make it fair and prove how much we care.

    We don’t ask you for money and we never send you a bill.

    Our team is driven in every way to help you achieve justice. We do whatever it takes and dedicate however much time we need to win your case and maximise your entitlements.

To keep Kelso Lawyers operating efficiently, we have a process that we apply to those who send us an inquiry. It’s the same process for everyone and it has been developed and refined over many years.

All inquiries received are screened by a special solicitor. Sometimes you will be asked to supply more information to help us make a decision. Once we have enough information the screening solicitor accepts your case or refers it to Peter Kelso with recommendations.

Peter Kelso has the final say; nobody is declined without Peter looking at your story.

Peter has the authority to accept your case or decline it. You will be advised either way after we have carefully reviewed your case.

Why Kelso Lawyers might have to decline your case

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It’s important to remember Kelso Lawyers wants to achieve justice for each and every victim of institutional abuse.

Peter understands the pain and suffering have been through and your right to justice. If we had the power to change current laws – we would make sure every single victim was compensated for the trauma inflicted by their perpetrators.

It is unlawful for a lawyer to take on a case or commence proceedings that have, in his opinion, no reasonable prospects of success. Peter can get into serious trouble if he did this. But some people are so upset when they are declined that they broadcast their frustrations on Facebook, send nasty emails to Peter or even complain to the Legal Services Commissioner.

Of course, the law is the law, and no amount of vitriol or official complaints will change Peter’s obligations to obey the law.

To help you understand why our team may have to decline your case, we want to explain a few of the most common reasons.

  1. Your case has poor prospects or no prospects of success. This might be because you can’t remember the abuser’s name or you are relying on unreliable “recovered memories”, or you only started remember in the last few years.
  2. You are mixed up and telling us facts that are inconsistent with what we know to be true – like the abuser didn’t work at the school or church when you were there or the abuser did sexual acts which are inconsistent with what we already know about him.
  3. We have a conflict of interest and are ethically prevented from acting for you. Conflicts can happen if and when we’ve done unrelated work for the perpetrator years ago or they might be claiming to be a victim too under different circumstances, or we have acted for a client who has named you as their perpetrator.
  4. The acts that you consider were abusive are not abusive in our opinion, or are not serious enough to attract compensation.

  5. The institution in question is not legally liable for what its employee did to you.

  6. The abuse occurred on private property and there is no real connection to the school or church.
  7. You are legally out of time to sue.

  8. The abuser was not an employee, leader or volunteer of the institution in question.

  9. You are not able to show that the abuse by the institution is responsible for your present-day psychological problems.

  10. The institution responsible for the abuse either no longer exists or is known by us to consistently refuse to compensate victims where litigation is not an option.

  11. You are exaggerating or reconstructing your own history.

  12. You have already been adequately compensated by the institution with the advice of an independent solicitor. You have signed a Deed of Release.

  13. You appear to be fabricating a story, attempting to defraud the institution in question.

Most importantly, if you are abusive towards us, disrespectful to our team (seeking conflict, demanding, swearing, shouting, threatening, belligerent, argumentative) or we think you are likely to intentionally cause psychological harm to our solicitors and support staff at some stage – we will definitely not take on your case.

If you feel like you might have a case, be sure to enquire with us. We would love to see you achieve justice against a system that protects the abusers.

Kelso Lawyers have extensive experience in cases against institutions, with a long and successful history. Our knowledge and understanding of the process involved with cases of child abuse mean we are leading experts in these compensation claims. We will analyse your case in detail and if we do decide to take on your case, the team at Kelso Lawyers will do whatever it takes to help you achieve justice and compensation.

Get the justice you deserve with Kelso Lawyers. We want to hear your story. Call (02) 4907 4200 or complete the online form before you accept payment from the National Redress Scheme. 

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