We recently reported on the Scottish Government’s consultation on a proposed financial redress scheme for survivors of historical child abuse. This consultation ended on 25 November 2019.
The current proposal suggested that the scheme would operate under a combination payment approach with two possible stages: stage 1, where the individual experience of abuse and its impact would not be assessed; and stage 2, an additional payment over and above the stage 1 payment, for which more information and supporting evidence would be required.
There have been recent criticisms over the definition of “children in care” as provided by the scheme. The Faculty of Advocates have raised concerns that this definition is wider for the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry than it would be under the scheme. As a result, children who attended fee paying boarding schools or those who were in long term care in hospital for medical or surgical treatment would be excluded for making an application to the scheme. They would have to seek compensation through other legal processes. It has been suggested that by excluding such a group of individuals, the scheme has failed to take account of the principles of fairness, compassion and respect.
Further concerns have also been raised in relation to the fact that there appears to be nothing in place to allow an applicant to seek a review if they disagree with the level of award made in respect of their application. Such a process operates in relation to the scheme operated by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) whereby an applicant is entitled to seek a review if they do not agree with the figure awarded.
It has also been highlighted that the proposal that those bearing responsibility for abuse should be made to contribute to the awards made through the scheme would create a number of difficulties. It is feared that this would make the scheme more complex and that the process would be slower. There is also a concern that potential applicants would be deterred from applying if it is possible for these entities to challenge whether or not the abuse happened.
It is unclear at the present time whether or not the Scottish government have considered these concerns. We are following the developments in relation to the scheme and will be reporting on any further responses from the Scottish Government. If you would like to speak to a member of our specialist team in relation to a potential case please call us now on 0333 060 5727.