The Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill has been introduced by the Scottish Government as the latest measure they have taken in order to address historical child abuse in care. The bill aims to provide tangible recognition of the harm caused to those who were abused as children in relevant residential care settings before 1 December 2004 through the establishment of an independent body, Redress Scotland.
In recent years, the Scottish Government have taken steps to address historical abuse of children including introducing the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Act 2017, which removed the three year time limit on personal injury claims for damages in respect of childhood abuse. The Scottish Government has described the bill as a measure which ‘faces up to the past with compassion’ following years of campaigning by survivors of abuse.
Redress Scotland will be empowered to provide two types of redress: a fixed-rate redress payment of £10,000, or an individually assessed redress, which will involve a more detailed examination of an individual’s experience but allows a payment of £20,000, £40,000 or £80,000. Importantly, the next of kin of deceased victims will be able to apply for the financial redress on behalf of their relative in certain circumstances.
For many victims, it can seem daunting to become involved in the civil court process. The bill recognises this; and deals with this obstacle to justice by allowing for a fixed rate redress payment to be made to victims without Redress Scotland carrying out a detailed examination of the victim’s experience. It is important that survivors of abuse are treated with dignity, listened to and believed; The Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill has introduced mechanisms which will make this possible.
Financial redress is an important part of addressing the failings of those who were responsible for the care of the children who were subject to abuse. Furthermore, financial redress represents accountability on behalf of those who failed the children they were entrusted to care for, which could be an important step in the recovery of survivors. Crucially, the measures the Scottish Government have introduced to address historical abuse of children in care will help survivors to access non-financial therapeutic support by creating an open conversation about the past failings of our residential care system.
The bill deals exclusively with historical abuse within a residential care setting, meaning many survivors of abuse are excluded from obtaining the financial redress they deserve on the basis they were abused within a non-residential organisation; or because the incidences of abuse occurred after 2004. We must not underestimate the amount of survivors of abuse who do not meet the criteria set out in the bill. Although the bill has improved access to justice for some survivors, many are excluded from seeking financial redress through Redress Scotland.
Deciding to make a historic abuse claim is an incredibly difficult decision. Jones Whyte are able to assist all survivors of historic abuse; and we recognise how important it is to support survivors who cannot seek financial redress through The Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill. At Jones Whyte, we recognise that retaining anonymity and control over each step of the process of pursuing a historical abuse claim can be crucial for survivors.
The Scottish Government have done well to recognise the reluctance of survivors to attend court to discuss their experiences. Similarly, Jones Whyte are mindful of this and attempt to settle any historic abuse claim outside of court in the first instance. In cases where settlement is not possible, we will ensure that you are fully informed about the process of intimating a claim to court and the consequential steps.
Since the introduction of the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Act 2017, historic abuse claims are no longer subject to a three year time bar – as is the case with other personal injury claims – and thus, survivors are able to proceed with their claim in their own time. Survivors who wish to make a claim for any historic physical, mental or sexual abuse they have experienced inside or outside of a residential care setting can contact one of our to discuss their options.
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