Irish Jesuit Redress Scheme for victims of physical and sexual abuse

Yesterday the Irish Jesuits Order yet again apologised to those who suffered abuse at the hands of Joseph Marmion to include sexual, physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual abuse and published a redress scheme. The purpose of which is stated to allow those who suffered that abuse to obtain reasonable compensation without the need for lengthy investigations and litigation. This is a few months after the Diocese of Dromore published its redress scheme, which that of the Jesuits is similar to although retains a greater focus on following actions akin to litigation with an inevitable increase in costs and delay.

Fr Marmion, who died in 2000 aged 75, is reported to have sexually assaulted dozens of boys whom he taught at Belvedere College, Dublin; Crescent College, Limerick; as well as at Clongowes Wood College, Kildare. All three are well known private fee paying schools in the Republic of Ireland.

The redress scheme was welcomed by a steering committee representing the men and provides for offers up to €75,000 and beyond depending on severity of the abuse.

In an unusual move, in March, 2021, the Jesuits publicly identified Fr Marmion as having “abused boys sexually, emotionally and physically while he was on the teaching staff at Belvedere College in the 1970s.”

It said it had issued this statement: “following engagement with a former pupil who was himself abused, in the hope that others who may have suffered would come forward and get the support they may need.”

The redress scheme is voluntary and does not prejudice either party’s right to pursue litigation at a later date. Limitation periods will be stayed for the duration of the redress scheme but if the claim is not resolved within the redress scheme, limitation can be raised at a later date.

Unusually, it appears that eligible claims will only enter the redress scheme if they cannot be settled by negotiations between solicitors for the Jesuits and solicitors for the victims in the first instance. Direct applicants would therefore seem to be excluded.

Claims that cannot be settled by negotiation will be entered into the Redress Scheme where they will be assessed by an independent private tribunal (“the Tribunal”) compromising a Senior Counsel (the Irish equivalent to a QC) or a retired High Court Judge and two Junior Counsel, one appointed by the solicitors acting for the steering committee of the victims of Fr Marimon and one by the Jesuits, neither of these Junior Counsel can have had any prior involvement in advising the steering committee or the Jesuits.

In assessing quantum, the Tribunal will have regard to the Personal Injury Guidelines adopted by the Irish Judicial Council in Ireland on the 6 March 2021.

Any offer of redress made under the scheme which is accepted, will be in full and in accepting an offer of redress an applicant will also waive his right to pursue a civil claim against the Jesuits or the schools involved in the redress scheme for all claims, losses or damages arising out of the circumstances identified in his application.

The abuse covered by the redress scheme must have commenced prior to the applicant’s 18th birthday.

The redress scheme also bears some unexpected parallels with civil litigation as legal representatives for the Jesuits may raise a Notice for Particulars and on receipt of Replies to such Particulars by the applicant may make submissions to the Tribunal. Notice for and Replies to Particulars are similar to old style requests for further and better particulars and interrogatories.

Both the applicants and the Jesuits have the right to secure their own independent medical evidence.

The initial assessment will be on paper and the award of redress made on foot of the same will be open for acceptance for 21 days by both parties, if the award is rejected by either party there will be an oral hearing before the Tribunal which can either confirm or amend the original award, this confirmed or amended award will be open for acceptance by both parties for a period of 14 days.

While the redress scheme provides for a Schedule of Legal Costs, please see the table below, it has not provided any guidance on the nature and extent of the abuse that will have to be established in order to be paid the compensation/redress awards referred to in this table under the heading Compensation Award.

Compensation awardLegal Costs
Up to €10,000€2000 (plus VAT)
Above €10,001 but no more than €20,000€3,500 (plus VAT)
Above €20,001 but no more than €50,000€6,250 (plus VAT)
Above €50,001 but no more than €60,000€7,500 (plus VAT)
Above €60,001 but no more than €75,000€9,000 (plus VAT)
Above €75,000Costs to be agreed between respective parties’ solicitors and costs to be taxed in default of agreement

Launching the redress scheme the Irish Jesuit Provincial Leonard Moloney SJ said that “Once again I want to apologise to all those who suffered in any way at the hands of Joseph Marmion… However, it is my sincere hope that this scheme will go some way towards assuring victims of our commitment to continue responding in whatever ways possible to the wishes and concerns of survivors. I hope also that in its construction it will cause the least possible trauma to victim/survivors of Joseph Marmion, who have already suffered enough.”


Written by James Chambers at BLM (james.chambers@bmlaw.com)

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