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Wednesday, 1 May, 2002, 08:14 GMT 09:14 UK
New victims' compensation plan
Dependants in fatal cases will continue to qualify
Dependants in fatal cases will continue to qualify
New arrangements to improve compensation for the victims of violent crime come into force on Wednesday.

The move also ends a law which meant victims of sexual abuse could not claim compensation after a three year time limit.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation (Northern Ireland) Order 2002 is the result of a review undertaken by victims' commissioner Sir Kenneth Bloomfield and former secretary of state Mo Mowlam.

Northern Ireland Office Minister Des Browne said from Wednesday anyone who became a victim of violent crime could use a simpler and quicker method to get compensation.

"The tariff-based scheme will remove the lengthy negotiations required under the common law system and reduce the trauma for victims of reliving distressing experiences," he said.

Des Browne
Des Browne: "Arrangements improved"

"Every victim can see at the outset how much compensation they can expect to receive for their injuries, and claims will be settled more quickly."

Tariff awards for pain and suffering will range from 1,000 for multiple minor injuries to 280,000 for permanent brain damage.

People who suffer more serious injuries are eligible for additional compensation, with no upper maximum limit.

This covers loss of earnings or earning capacity and the cost of care or other medical expenses.


Victims will now have greater flexibility in the time limit for making a claim

Des Browne
NIO minister

The minister said dependants in fatal cases would continue to qualify for compensation for financial loss.

Claims for mental injury can be made by those not present at the scene of a loved one's death or injury.

Appeals panel

"Bereavement support arrangements have also been improved and payments have been increased from a maximum of 7,500 for each case, payable to spouses and parents of unmarried minors only, to 12,000 each for all qualifying applicants.

"That is spouses or partners, including same sex partners, parents and children," said Mr Browne.

A new independent appeals panel will be able to deal with appeals against decisions "more quickly and informally than the present right of appeal to the courts".

"We are also funding Victim Support to provide an enhanced support service to victims, which will include support and assistance in making a criminal injuries claim."

The Law Society of Northern Ireland said the new arrangements may not be in the best interest of victims.

"We think that levels of compensation may well turn out to be considerably lower than at present," said spokesman John Bailey.

"We also think, with the endorsement of the Northern Ireland Assembly, there is a better way forward for Northern Ireland in following up some positive proposals we have made for reforming the current system."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Victims Commissioner Sir Kenneth Bloomfield
"Northern Ireland will have significantly higher tarrifs"
See also:

29 Feb 00 | Northern Ireland
Victims highlight concerns at conference
21 Mar 01 | Northern Ireland
Compensation increase for RUC widows
08 Apr 02 | Northern Ireland
Omagh relatives' compensation call
05 Dec 01 | Northern Ireland
Soldier's mother refused payment
27 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Disappeared offer is 'insult'
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