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Redress Scotland or historic abuse compensation claim – which is right for me?

For many people it can be difficult to work out what steps they should take to recover compensation.

“Do I apply for a Redress Scheme payment or should I make a civil claim?”

“What does each option involve?”

“How will each affect me, my compensation or my future?”

To help address these common concerns we are going to do our best to lay out all the key information.

Kim Leslie, Partner at Digby Brown, talks about Redress Scheme

What is Redress Scheme Scotland?

The Redress Scheme Scotland was set up to compensate people who were abused as children in a care setting.

People apply to receive financial redress payments of £10,000 but if a person feels they deserve more then a panel may review the circumstances of their claim to see if they are entitled to a higher payment of either £20k, £40k, £60k, £80k or £100k.

There are a few reasons why survivors of historical child abuse in care would benefit from seeking compensation via Redress Scotland:

  • The process is relatively simple 
  • Less proof is needed 
  • There is a possibility you may receive your damages more quickly

HOWEVER…

From the available information there are still some negatives linked to Redress Scotland:

  •  A survivor is forced to sign a waiver that bans them from taking legal action
  • The payments are significantly less than the payments typically seen in historic abuse claims
  • A survivor may not receive the personal recognition they deserve
  • Abuser/liable organisations escape public accountability 
  • Scheme is too new to know how well it works
  • There is no access to an independent tribunal to review payments or decisions

It is therefore important to speak to an independent solicitor who specialises in historic abuse cases like Kim Leslie, Head of our Non-Accidental Team. With their knowledge of the both the legal process and Redress only a specialist can advise you on your best option.

How does Redress Scotland get the money used for compensation payments?

Current plans and headlines tell us a Redress payment (or most of it) will be paid by the taxpayer. 

It was hoped that organisations like religious groups would all pay into the scheme but to date it seems few have contributed. This might also explain why the scheme did not become operational until December 2021.

Unlike redress payments, any compensation paid to you after a civil claim is NOT paid by the taxpayer - it comes from an insurance company. Yes, even if your claim is against a public body like a local council it is likely the council’s public liability insurance that pays your compensation. 

What happens after I apply to Redress Scotland for a claim?

From the available information it looks like after you apply then you may face one of the following outcomes:

1 - You are denied a payment

If this happens do not worry. You may still have the option of a no win, no fee civil action so seek the advice of a legal expert. 

2 - You are offered £10,000 and accept this amount 

Before you receive any payment you will be forced to sign the waiver of your legal rights, but you could potentially lose out on thousands more and the ability to hold your abuser accountable.

3 - You are offered £10,000 but you seek a panel review to obtain a higher amount
There is no indication how long this process will be or what it will involve. But with our experience in Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority claims we have reason to believe the review will follow a tariff system. This means a final payment offer may depend on the strength of your Redress Scotland application and any available supporting evidence.

4 – You are offered the same/higher amount following a panel review
If you accept the decision of the panel then again, you will have to waive your legal rights before receiving your payment. But if you are not happy then you may still seek the help of a solicitor. 

In the cases of options 2, 3 and 4 there is a pretty big issue – Redress Scotland will demand that you confirm that you agree to accept it within a certain time limit. In the case of option 4 it is also not clear if you get extra time to decide whether to accept the revised offer or if the decision is final. (Perhaps this will become clear as Redress matures.)

But there is also a bigger over-riding problem…

How does the panel know the value of your claim?

Well this is where the benefit of an independent solicitor comes in.

A specialist abuse lawyer will take the time to gather the right evidence needed to fully investigate, analyse and value your case.

They will obtain medical records, police reports, old school records, official documents, court paperwork, witness statements… you name it.

Investigating like this is the only way to properly value your case.

Now here’s the problem – as you can imagine it takes time to gather all that information. But without it, how do you know if Redress is offering you a fair amount?

Arguably, there is only one solution to guarantee fair compensation and fair treatment: speak to a solicitor BEFORE applying to Redress Scotland.

An application to the Redress Scheme on your own essentially starts a countdown with far-reaching and potentially harmful consequences – and any decisions you make or waivers you sign cannot be undone.

But when you come to Digby Brown you are given holistic, bespoke support tailored to your needs – and you have time to decide on your options. 

We take the time needed to look into your case and work out what course of action is best for you.

Maybe it’s a civil case, maybe it’s a CICA claim or maybe after reviewing things we can see your best option may in fact be Redress.

Whatever course is taken we can help you on your journey and offer advice at every step of the way.

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