Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Questions (248)

Seán Fleming

Question:

248. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the expected timescale for cases to be dealt with by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal; if he is satisfied that cases are being processed efficiently, that there are proper corporate governance arrangements in place and that there are adequate resources to deal with claims in a timely manner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51983/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal administers the Scheme of Compensation for Personal Injuries Criminally Inflicted.  Under the Terms of the Scheme, the Tribunal is entirely independent in the matter of individual decisions on applications for compensation.

Tribunal members, who are practising barristers and practising solicitors in the Courts system, provide their services on a part time basis to the Tribunal. I have ensured that a full Tribunal membership has been maintained in order to continue to address claims as promptly as possible within the funds available.

The length of time taken to process an application can vary widely from case to case. Each case is addressed on the individual application. While applications are processed with the minimum of formality compared to court proceedings where compensation is being claimed, in making their decisions Tribunal Members must be satisfied that all supporting documentation submitted is in order. In some cases there can be delays pending the availability of all the required documentation and some cases are complex in terms of medical conditions. For example, in the cases of serious injury to the victim, it can take considerable amount of time before the treating consultant is in a position to give a final prognosis. It is also often necessary to await Garda reports arising from the related criminal investigation before a final decision can be made in a case. By their nature, such investigations can be lengthy and complex.

Insofar as average processing times are concerned, I can inform the Deputy that I have requested an assessment of the caseload of the Tribunal and have asked my officials to examine this assessment and seek the views of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal in this regard. As previously advised, I will contact the Deputy with further information in due course.

I can also advise the Deputy that, in view of the length of time since the Scheme was last revised, my Department has submitted a request for a review of the Scheme to the Law Reform Commission (LRC) for consideration in the context of its Programme of Law Reform.

Furthermore, in view of a number of large value awards in the current year, I can inform the Deputy that I have obtained approval for an increased allocation of €2.4 m, for 2018, as part of a Supplementary Estimate for the Vote which will bring the total compensation allocation to €6.416 m for the year.