What is required of institutions by the Historical Institution Redress Board in Northern Ireland

Section 9(2) of the Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Act, 2019 (“the 2019 Act”) provides that the panel dealing with an application before it must, in so far as it is practicable to do so and in accordance with such provision as may be made in rules, request the body, society or

organisation which provided residential accommodation in an institution to which the application refers to provide whatever information would enable the panel to verify the accuracy of information provided in support of the application for compensation.

The specifics of the obligations placed on institutions in Section 9(2) of the 2019 Act are to be found at Rule 7 of the Historical Institutional Abuse Redress Board (Applications and Appeals) Rules (Northern Ireland) 2020 (“the 2020 Rules”).

Rule 7 provides that HIA Redress Board must give written notice to the body, society or organisation which provided residential accommodation in an institution to the applicant who is applying for compensation.

The secretary to the HIA Redress Board must stamp each written notice that issues under this rule with the date on which the notice is issued and must secure that the notice is delivered to the last-known address for the body, society or organisation concerned on the notice as soon as ever possible and the rules provide that this notice may be served electronically.

Any notice issued to an institution under this rule must specify—

  • the name of the applicant and, where the application is in respect of a deceased person, the name of the deceased person;
  • the name and address of the institution in which the applicant or deceased person was resident;
  • the period during which the applicant or deceased person was resident in the institution;
  • the name of any person referred to in the application as having responsibility for the abuse to which the application relates.

Any notice issued to an institution must also include a request for the body, society or organisation concerned—

  • to provide information as to whether compensation in connection with any of the matters to which the application relates has been paid and, if it has, information as to the amount of compensation and when, by whom and to whom it was paid,
  • to indicate whether or not the body, society or organisation is able to verify the accuracy of the information specified in the notice under paragraph (3)(a) to (c), and
  • to indicate whether or not the body, society or organisation intends to provide written evidence in response to the notice.

The body, society or organisation must, within seven days of the date that the notice issued respond in writing to the HIA Redress Board’s request for the information referred to at paragraphs (a) and (b) above and if the institution wants to provide written evidence/ response to the notice that has issued in an application they can do so, but they must do so within 28 days of the date that the notice issued to the institutions by the Secretary to the HIA Redress Board.

Section 9(7) of the 2019 Act also provides that once the panel has determined the application for compensation the secretary to the HIA Redress Board must notify the applicant in writing of the determination and the notification that issues to the applicant must be accompanied by a summary of the panel’s reasons for the determination.

While Section 9(7) makes no reference to the institution it is of interest that Rule 11 of the 2020 Rules make provision for the institution and/or its solicitors to be notified in the same way as to the outcome of the application for compensation and it appears that this includes the institution being provided with the summary of the panel’s reasons for the determination made. This is an interesting development and provides the institutions concerned with a more detailed level of information about the outcome of an application for compensation than other modern redress schemes have provided for in the past or currently.

However, it seems likely that this is also a clear indicator that the Northern Ireland Government will in due course look to the bodies, societies and organisations who operated these institutions to contribute to the overall costs of the HIA Redress Scheme and their being formally notified of the determinations made and the compensation payable is the first notification of that future liability.


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Written by James Chambers at BLM

james.chambers@blmlaw.com

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