A chance meeting in a London restaurant led to a Portuguese woman, deemed incapable by her own lawyers, receiving the £170,000 she had been awarded after an accident in 2006.
A Portuguese law student at the University of London helped the 69-year-old illiterate Madeiran expatriate redeem the compensation held by law firm that had seized her assets, declaring her “unable to administer them,” as she was mentally unfit.
Ângela Maria Sousa Baptista does not know how to read or write and had lived for over 40 years in England, where she was hit by a car in 2006.
She was partially physically incapacitated and after a seven year wait, was awarded compensation but the company that dealt with her case, Hansen Palomares Solicitors, successfully claimed in a court that its client was mental incapacitated and that they should withhold and administer her compensation. The court agreed.
Sra Baptista had been trying to get her money since 2013, until last year when she met trainee lawyer, Alexandra da Silva (pictured below) in the Futebol Clube do Porto restaurant in London.
After listening to Angela’s story, Alexandra da Silva volunteered to help her in court as a ‘McKenzie friend,’ a position provided for in English law but one that does not exist in the Portuguese legal system.
In November 2016, a petition was filed with the court to investigate the case. Evidence was presented that Sra Batista was mentally sound and a request was made that law firm be ordered to return her money.
An independent doctor, appointed by the court to evaluate the plaintiff, concluded that she was perfectly sound of mind and the judge agreed that the money should be released before October 3rd.
“I never thought it would go so well. It really was justice because one judge contradicted the previous decision of another judge,” says Alexandra da Silva.
Ângela Baptista, a former cleaning lady in hotels and private houses in London and who now lives in Madeira, was delighted with the outcome – “Alexandra was my guardian angel,” commented the happy retiree.
A Portuguese legal source explained that “this sort of case would be practically impossible in Portugal,” as there is no provision for a “friend” figure in court and the young woman would not have been heard.
“The legal systems are completely different. The Anglo-Saxon system is not about laws, but about decisions based on jurisprudence, while Portuguese law forces judges to respect the law and the rule of law.”
News courtesey of http://algarvedailynews.com/news