Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Compensation for Personal Injuries.

8.

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.

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.