The Redress for Survivors (Historic Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill will soon be finalised and will create new legislation relating to the rights of survivors of child abuse in care in Scotland.
This means that certain survivors of child abuse will be able to apply to the government Redress Scheme for compensation in relation to the abuse they suffered. The scheme will apply to survivors who were abused before 1 December 2004 in a relevant care setting (for example, a children's home, foster care, or an approved school).
The government is advising that potential applicants should seek independent legal advice as to whether the scheme is suitable for their individual circumstances.
Talk to Thompsons today for free legal advice on the scheme in respect of your personal circumstances, and whether making an application is best for you.
What is the Redress Scheme?
The government scheme has been devised to provide financial remedy to survivors of in-care historic child abuse. Applicants will be able to apply for a fixed sum of £10,000 or apply for an individual assessment whereby their claim will be assessed in more detail and the award could be more.
One significant and controversial aspect of the Redress Scheme is that successful applicants will be required to sign a "waiver" to prevent them from making any further claim through a civil court.
This could mean that some survivors receive much less in financial redress than they could achieve as a result of making a civil claim for historic child abuse.
What's the difference between the Redress Scheme and a civil claim?
The Scottish Government says that the Redress Scheme seeks to "provide tangible recognition" of the harm caused to children in their care. The process of assessing applications and making decisions will be handled by an independent organisation, Redress Scotland. There will be no court hearing and compensation will be paid from a fund created by the Scottish Government. Organisations that were involved in the care of children who were abused, and parties who took part in the decision-making processes and arrangements which facilitated children being put into care will be asked to provide "fair and meaningful contributions" to the fund.
A civil claim for historic child abuse is actioned through the Scottish court system and is brought against a specific defender or defenders. It is your case, about you and specific to what has happened to you. Compensation can be claimed for what you have gone through and continue to go through as well as the associated wage loss and financial losses. Civil cases will likely attract far higher levels of compensation than are available through the Redress scheme. Your solicitor will represent you, and your evidence will form part of the case. In most cases your legal team will seek to achieve settlement prior to a court hearing, but if settlement cannot be reached, a date will be set for the hearing and a judge will decide the outcomes.
The judge is able to award compensation on a number of factors relating to your individual claim; including for solatium (pain and suffering), loss of wages, loss of employability, future losses, and interest on past losses. In the case of T v The English Province of the Congregation of Christian Brothers Sheriff McGowan awarded compensation in excess of £300,000.
Under the Redress Scheme, awards will be capped at £100,000.
The lowest award will be £10,000, but for any award above this amount, evidence will be required by the Redress panel.
It is therefore essential that every survivor seeks advice from specialist solicitors before deciding on what option is best for them. This area of law and how the compensation is calculated is complex. We want to make sure that survivors are equipped with all the information and advice they need before making the important decision as to what route to compensation is best for them.
What is a "waiver"?
If an applicant accepts a payment from the Redress Scheme, they will be required to sign a waiver which means they agree to take no further legal action. The situations in which the waiver will stand are extremely complicated.
Without expert legal advice it is unlikely that applicants will be able to adequately understand the ramifications of signing a waiver and while there is likely to be a period of time allowed from the date of the Redress offer until the applicant must accept the offer, the suggested time frame, in our opinion, is not long enough for applicants to seek fully-informed legal advice.
It is therefore vital that survivors seek advice prior to making an application through the Redress Scheme so that they are able to make an informed decision about their situation and how they should proceed.
Is there any other help available for survivors of abuse?
Thompsons Solicitors in Scotland works closely with Wellbeing Scotland to help survivors, and their families, gain access to support and resources throughout their claim and on into the future. The charity provides a dedicated service for survivors who suffered abuse in care settings.
How do I get legal advice on making a claim for historic child abuse?
Talk to Thompsons today about the Redress Scheme – we have a dedicated Survivor Team, all of whom are specially trained and able to provide a trauma-informed approach so they can communicate effectively and sensitively with you, and support you fully.
There will be no charge for this service, this advice is free of charge. If you decide to instruct us to deal with a civil claim instead, there is also no charge at the outset and our fees are only payable if your case is successful.
To find out more about the individual solicitors who work in our Survivors Team, please click through to our Meet the Team page.
Our advice is free, whether you decide to make a civil claim or apply to the Redress Scheme, and we will guide you through the differences of both routes as they apply to your personal circumstances so that you can make an informed decision.
Contact us today by filling in our online form – click on the button below. Alternatively, you can call us on 0800 0891 331 or text CLAIM to 78866.