As expected in many quarters, and in line with the approach of neighboring jurisdictions, IICSA has recommended the establishment of a National Redress Scheme in England and Wales. They say this recommendation was made to recognize “…the state’s responsibility to protect children from sexual abuse and consequent harm suffered over many decades”,
As was the case when other national reparations programs were announced, IICSA accepts that no amount of money can ever fully compensate a victim who has suffered child sexual abuse. However, IICSA asserts that the recommended national repair program will provide “…some reparation for abuse and its consequences and help victims and survivors access valuable support and therapy.”
IICSA noted that it had recommended a national remedy program because currently one of the only ways victims and survivors can be compensated for child sexual abuse is through civil lawsuits and that having heard from victims and survivors as part of its work on this topic, IICSA accepts that many victims and survivors bringing a civil action may be re-traumatized by this process and that there may be a number of legal obstacles to overcome.
The IICSA indicates that it defines a reparation system as a non-adversarial process by which financial reparation (and possibly other forms of reparation) can be awarded to claimants.
IICSA recommends that the UK government establish a single redress system in England and Wales, taking into account delegated responsibilities.
The detailed rules and funding for this national reparations program should reflect the following essential elements.
- Victims and survivors of child sexual abuse and exploitation occurring in England and Wales should be able to apply.
- Candidates must have been a victim of child sexual abuse and exploitation where there is a clear link to state or non-state institutions in England and Wales.
- The program should be open to any victim of child sexual abuse that took place before its creation.
- The plan must deduct any previous compensation from any payments under the plan (or, in the case of payments made by the Crime Victims Compensation Authority, it can order their reimbursement).
- Plaintiffs who have already brought civil actions that have been dismissed by the court should be excluded from applying to the regime, unless their cases have been dismissed due to a statute of limitations.
- The scheme is expected to provide payments to eligible applicants through a two-tier system, based on a fixed lump sum recognition payment, with the option to request a second-tier payment. The first should be a fixed lump sum recognition payment. Victims and survivors who wish to provide more details and evidence can apply for a second level payment.
- The application process should be accessible and simple, and take into account the needs and vulnerabilities of victims and survivors of child sexual abuse. The process should provide for simplified checks and verification of claims, but not be adversarial.
- There should be special provisions to expedite awards to elderly or terminally ill applicants.
- The program is expected to last five years.
- The scheme should be funded by central and local government, in line with decentralized funding principles, with voluntary contributions sought from non-state institutions.
Over the coming week, we’ll take a closer look at some aspects of the recommended National Repair Program.
However, it is likely that one of the most controversial aspects of the recommended national reparations program is the proposal that victims and survivors receive compensation under the proposed national reparations program. he should not be expected to waive any right to pursue subsequent civil suitsIICSA believes that it is important that this option remains open to candidates, even when they have received an award under the program.
Litigation waivers, as they are commonly called, 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 to sign and/or make voluntary contributions to fund the National Redress Scheme from non-state institutions, which will always face the possibility of civil lawsuits and the significant costs associated with it.