Abuse Inquiry Report on compensation
The Independent Inquiry in to Child Sexual Abuse has published its report on how victims of child sex abuse are treated by the compensation system. It is sharply critical of the present system but (so far) has stopped short of a complete overhaul which I have advocated.
I represent clients who gave evidence at the IICSA Accountability and Reparations Inquiry in November 2018. The clients brought a sense of confusion to the proceedings and from their impassioned words it quickly emerged that they had each been kept in the dark about what was available to them. Some had failed to get recompense, apologies or support. Some had been compensated after many years of tough court proceedings and some had simply given up trying.
The Inquiry report out today shines a light on the cloudy world of accountability and reparations for child sex abuse crimes and compensation. The report acknowledges that :
“The evidence which has been heard in this investigation leaves us in no doubt that none of the avenues for redress which we examined – civil justice, criminal compensation (CCOs and CICA awards) or support services – is always able to adequately provide the remedies which are sought as accountability and reparations for the survivors of abuse”
The evidence showed that the passage through the compensation system is down to chance – some are fortunate enough to have an insurer or organisation realise that it owes a moral responsibility to claimants to compensate them and provide support. Most encounter insurers or defendant bodies who defend themselves in a legalistic way, using expensive lawyers to resist these claims.
Law of limitation
The evidence was that most insurers and organisations hide behind the rules on time limits where possible. A case must be brought before the age of 21 and this time will only be extended in exceptional circumstances. This has led to highly controversial and unfair decisions from the courts in cases where the fact of the abuse can be proved. The Association of British Insurers have pledged to avoid using this law in future but we will see…
A national Redress scheme ?
The Inquiry heard competing arguments about an all-encompassing scheme to cover all child sex abuse. Drawbacks could be the lack of control from organisations, limited funds from central government and a “one size fits all” approach. The positives certainly outweighed the negatives according to the views of those giving evidence at the Inquiry. All claimants would be eligible. A specialist independent body would decide cases. It would be quick, less painful, less adversarial and deliver consistent justice.
The issues of Limitation laws and a redress scheme are to be debated in a separate inquiry on November 2019 and the Inquiry has given strong hints that it will recommend the removal of the time limits and will introduce a national redress scheme.
For now it is good that this murky scene is out in the open and that the Inquiry are making recommendations which give more information to claimants and which attempt to push insurers to ease off from their hard legal tactics. Importantly recommendations on therapy support in my view should go much further than the signposting and encouraging insurers to establish a rehab code – a national network of good quality therapists should be put together. I welcome further consideration of the issues of limitation and the redress scheme in November.
19th September 2019