IICSA has as expected in many quarters, and in line with the approach in neighbouring jurisdictions, recommended the establishment of a National Redress Scheme in England and Wales. They say that this recommendation has been made to acknowledge “…the State’s responsibility to protect children from sexual abuse and the consequent harm experienced over many decades,”
As was the case when other National Redress Schemes were announced, IICSA accepts that no amount of money can ever fully compensate a victim who has suffered child sexual abuse however, IICSA says that the recommended National Redress Scheme will provide “…some reparation for the abuse and its consequences and help victims and survivors to gain access to valuable support and therapy”.
IICSA noted that it had recommended a National Redress Scheme as currently one of the only ways that victims and survivors can be compensated for child sexual abuse is by bringing civil claims and that having heard from victims and survivors in the course of its work on this topic, IICSA accepts that many victims and survivors bringing a civil claim can be re-traumatised by this process and there can be a number of legal hurdles to overcome.
IICSA says that it defines a redress scheme as being a non-adversarial process by which financial redress (and potentially other forms of redress) may be provided to applicants.
IICSA recommends that the UK government establishes a single redress scheme in England and Wales, taking into account devolved responsibilities.
The detailed rules of, and funding for, this National Redress Scheme should reflect the following core elements.
- Victims and survivors of child sexual abuse and exploitation that occurred in England and in Wales should be eligible to apply.
- Applicants must have experienced child sexual abuse and exploitation where there is a clear connection to State or non-State institutions in England and Wales.
- The scheme should be open to any victim of child sexual abuse that took place prior to its establishment.
- The scheme should deduct any previous award from any payment under the scheme (or in the case of payments made by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, it may order that they be repaid).
- Applicants who have previously brought civil claims which have been rejected by the court should be excluded from applying to the scheme, save where their cases have been rejected due to limitation.
- The scheme should provide payments to eligible applicants through a two-tier system, based on a fixed flat-rate recognition payment, with the option to apply for a second-tier payment. The first should be a fixed flat-rate recognition payment. Victims and survivors who wish to provide more details and evidence could apply for a second-tier payment.
- The application process must be accessible and straightforward, and be sensitive to the needs and vulnerabilities of victims and survivors of child sexual abuse. The process should provide for streamlined checks and verification of applications, but not be adversarial.
- There should be special provisions to accelerate awards for older or terminally ill applicants.
- The scheme should run for five years.
- The scheme should be funded by central and local government, in accordance with devolved funding principles, with voluntary contributions sought from non-State institutions.
Over the coming week we will look at certain aspects of the recommended National Redress Scheme in greater detail.
However, it is likely that one of the more controversial aspects of the recommended National Redress Scheme is the proposal that victims and survivors receiving an award under the proposed National Redress Scheme should not be expected to waive any right to bring subsequent civil proceedings, IICSA being of the view that it important that this option remains open for applicants, even where they have received an award under the scheme.
Litigation Waivers as they are commonly known, are deeply unpopular with victims and survivors and have been the subject of much criticism in other jurisdictions, but in the absence of such litigation waivers there will likely be little appetite for signing up to and/or making of voluntary contributions to fund the National Redress Scheme from non-State institutions, who will still face the possibility of civil proceedings and the significant costs associated with the same.