asked the Minister for Justice the average delay between the lodgment and processing of applications by the tribunal administering the scheme of compensation for personal injuries criminally inflicted; the reason for such delays; and if he has any proposals to improve the situation.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Compensation for Personal Injuries.
I am informed by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal that the information sought by the Deputy is not available in the form requested and could not be obtained without a disproportionate use of staffing resources. I can, however, give the Deputy some indication of the length of the process for examining applications on the basis of a survey of 148 recently completed cases carried out by the tribunal.
There were four categories of applications in the survey. Details of the categories and of the average time-span for processing each category to final payment are as follows: applications in respect of non-fatal injuries under the original scheme decided by one member — 47 months; applications in respect of non-fatal injuries under the original scheme decided on appeal to three members — 58 months; applications in respect of fatal injuries — 34 months and applications in respect of non-fatal injuries under the amended scheme — 23 months.
The main reasons for the delays in processing applications is the large number of claims received during the years 1982 to 1986 when the scheme was amended. In this context I should mention that towards the end of last year there was a large backlog of decided cases awaiting payment. This backlog was eliminated by the provision of £4 million by way of Supplementary Estimate.
Last year £5.938 million was paid in awards under the scheme compared with £2.612 million in 1987 and £2.764 million in 1986. The payment of such a large amount last year resulted in a significant improvement in the delay period for finalising applications. I have no plans at present for any further improvements.