Accountability & Reparations – Preliminary Hearing

A preliminary hearing was recently held to provide an update on the work of the Accountability & Reparations Investigation and to discuss the necessary preparations for the November/December hearing. 

Counsel to the Inquiry, Peter Skelton QC, advised that since the last preliminary hearing core participant status has been given to four victim/survivors from St Aidan’s, another victim/survivor for Forde Park and another victim/survivor for Stanhope Castle.   In total there are now 41 core participants victims and survivors across the case study institutions.  26 finalised statements have now been received.  It was reiterated that the investigation will not examine or resolve disputed factual issues relating to the underlying abuse.

Counsel directed that the primary focus on the case studies should be as follows:-

1.       What the concepts of accountability and reparation mean to victims and survivors. This is a generic issue which features throughout all of the case studies and which has featured heavily during the seminars
2.       Knowledge of and access to civil litigation and criminal compensation, including issues of funding
3.       Insurance, i.e. the nature of insurance cover and how this affects access to and the outcome of civil litigation
4.       The management of child sexual abuse civil litigation, including the administration of group litigation.  Several group actions were heard within the case studies
5.       The process of civil litigation, in particular, limitation; the assessment of damages; and the settlement of cases by agreement
6.       The processes of criminal compensation, including CICA awards and criminal compensation orders
7.       Access to support services.

Before turning to the individual case studies, Counsel made the following general points:-

1. The list of issues is intended to be the focus of the Inquiry’s work, but it is not exclusive and further issues may become apparent during the case studies.  If so, the Inquiry may wish to include them within the scope of its investigations
2. The concepts of accountability and reparation and what they mean to victims and survivors are at the heart of the work of the investigation and will inevitably be considered in all of the case studies
3. Two of the issues, support services and the process of criminal compensation, have not been allocated to particular case studies because the investigation of these issues will require the Inquiry to consider the experiences of individuals rather than groups of victims and survivors
4. Specific issues, such as the management of civil litigation and legal issues in the civil litigation, such as limitation, will be investigated in multiple case studies.  The purpose of this is to obtain a broad range of evidence, practice and opinions on these issues
5. The operation of the criminal justice system is not included as an issue in this investigation.

In response, the following submissions were made:-

Mr Simblett, on behalf of core participant survivors (North Wales):-
– It was suggested that the Inquiry will need to focus on the role of the various police forces in addition to the role of CICA
– There should be focus on the concrete improvements that can be made, such as removing limitation defences and looking at the resources that are necessary
– Consideration should be made as to the success of the Lambeth redress scheme.

Mr Collins, on behalf of  J1 – J3:-
– It is essential that an opinion is formed as to what is happening in 2018, both regarding civil litigation and wider policy considerations and it was suggested there should be a case study of some sort to deal with this
– It was suggested that there be a case study to deal with whatever recommendations would work in practice, for example, looking at the Australian reforms.

Mr Khan, on behalf of G8:-
– The failures of the authorities, the institutions and the police informs should be included within this investigation.

Mr Stein QC, on behalf of a large group of core participants across all case studies
– Suggested that there should be evidence from solicitors with experience in this area so that the Inquiry can understand the frequency of limitation being used as a defence
– Each one of the survivors wants the Inquiry to give and publish views and opinions on the mistakes that were made
– The Inquiry should either recommend that for survivors of abuse there should be a head of damage that would be retrospective, payable to survivors, whether or not they have received some compensation, or a redress scheme akin to that in Australia.

Mr Garsden, on behalf of survivor B19:-
– Suggested that the way group litigation is considered today ought to be looked at
– Proposed that there should be an investigation of the criminal justice system.

Mr Hough QC, on behalf of Royal Sun Alliance:-
– Accountability and Reparations is a much wider concept than monetary compensation and can be established through the criminal justice system, support services and appropriate apologies
– The case studies are not representative of how the system functions today and this should be considered.

Turning to the cases studies, the Inquiry set out their proposals for which issues should be investigated in each individual case study as follows:-

– North Wales Children’s Homes – to be focused on civil litigation
– Forde Park – to focus on the overall management of the Forde Park civil litigation, and the litigation process itself, in particular how the claims were settled and how that settlement was perceived by the victims and survivors
– St Leonard’s – as per Forde Park
– St Aidan’s and St Vincent’s – to be focused on the process of civil litigation, in particular limitation, and how this impacted on the experiences of victims and survivors
– Stanhope Castle – to be focused on knowledge of and access to civil litigation and criminal compensation (from the CICA).

A further and final preliminary hearing has been listed for 25 September 2018 to deal with any outstanding matters ahead of the public hearings which start on 26 November 2018.

Authored by solicitor Kate Wright for BLM.

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