In August 2019, Patrick Williams, Associate in the specialist abuse team at Keoghs, considered the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry and investigation into allegations of abuse in children’s residential homes run by religious, charitable and state organisations in Northern Ireland from 1922 to 1995. The inquiry made several recommendations, which included financial compensation to be administered by a redress board. Patrick Williams considered the potential implications of this recommendation here.
The Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Act 2019 (the ‘Act’) received Royal Assent on 5 November 2019. The Act provides the legal framework for the establishment of the Historical Institutional Abuse Redress Board.
The Redress Board is responsible for receiving and processing applications for compensation from those who experienced abuse in residential institutions in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995.
In order to be eligible to be considered for an award of redress, an individual must have:
There is a list of relevant institutions within the rules which is updated regularly, with the last update being in May 2023.
Further, applications are also accepted on behalf of someone who died on or after 28 April 1953 if they are the deceased person’s surviving spouse, civil partner, cohabiting partner or surviving child (assuming that the child is a residual beneficiary of the deceased’s estate).
The Act sets out the amount of compensation that may be awarded, as follows:
In addition, the Redress Board will pay an applicant’s legal costs in accordance with the tables of scale costs set out in the Costs and Expenses Protocol. The amount of costs paid is subject to the amount of compensation awarded and whether or not an oral hearing is required. Expenses may also be paid if a report is required from a psychiatrist or psychologist.
Applications will remain open until 3 April 2025.
Update on applications and financial awards
On 16 October 2023, the HIA Redress Board published its third annual report on the exercise of its function during that year.
It reports as follows:
Number of applications
The redress scheme in Northern Ireland is now well underway, with a large number of applications received and a number of awards made in regard to those applicants. Clearly, the redress scheme is working well and it reports that its objectives are being met.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) recommended a single Redress Scheme for victims and survivors of abuse that occurred in England and Wales, including sexual abuse by other children. We are still waiting for the Government to respond to the recommendation: the six-month period in which to respond ended in April 2023. In May 2023, though the Home Office confirmed that a child sexual abuse redress scheme will be established in England and Wales, we have had no further response to date.
In light of the positive response to the scheme set up in Northern Ireland then no doubt the Government of England and Wales will consider its structure and objectives, as well as others, in its planning of its own redress scheme.
For more information, please contact:
Patrick Williams - Associate
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