18 October 2019 | Comment | Article by Alan Collins
IICSA (Independent Inquiry Child Sexual Abuse) as part of its Accountability and Reparations investigation will be looking at redress schemes. In this week's episode of the HJ Talks About Abuse podcast Sam and I discuss the pros and cons of Redress schemes.
Redress schemes are often seen as vehicles to deliver justice to victims outside the litigation process. They naturally as a consequence have an attraction, but might it be superficial?
Justice of course can mean different things to different people. Usually the general components are:
It will be interesting to see what IICSA has to make of redress schemes when they come under its spotlight.
We know from our work with survivors that redress schemes can deliver justice when there is no alternative, perhaps, for complex legal reasons. We have experience of such schemes in a wide set of circumstances:
- State schemes such as those that operated in the Australian states
- The Historic Abuse redress scheme in Jersey
- The current Jersey Redress Scheme
- Bespoke schemes in relation to offenders.
The success or otherwise of such schemes is very much dependent on the small print. The devil is often in the detail. Navigating successfully can sometimes be fraught and what ought to be straightforward turns out not to be, and can be very testing not just for the applicant but their lawyer too.
Redress schemes which might also be known in some contexts as compensation schemes can be found in non-sexual abuse arenas too.
There is the Windrush Compensation Scheme which was set-up by the government in the wake of the scandal that erupted when it came to public notice that some of those who came to the UK to live from the Commonwealth were being wrongly deprived to live and work here. This primarily concerned those who were of the “Empire Windrush” generation and their descendants. Redress under the scheme could mean compensation for loss of employment, homelessness, detention etc.
Applicants are encouraged to apply online. There is a right of review and there is no litigation.
How effective the process and outcome will be from an applicant’s perspective, remains to be seen. There is a risk and concern that they might be under-compensated in comparison with what a court might award in the event of successful litigation.
There is also the miscarriages of justice scheme: MOJAS
MOJAS is available to all those who were innocent but convicted of a crime.
It is also open potentially for those victims of trafficking who would have had the benefit of protection under Article 26 ECAT.
Victims and survivors should always remember that there are time limits with schemes. They should never sit on the fence, but apply or at the very least seek expert legal advice.