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Miscarriage Of Justice

Volume 401: debated on Thursday 20 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what criteria he takes into account when assessing ex gratia payments for persons whose convictions have been quashed as a result of a miscarriage of justice; and if he will make a statement. [103961]

While the Home Secretary decides whether an applicant qualifies for compensation, the assessment of the amount of compensation is undertaken by an Assessor appointed by the Home Secretary under the Criminal Justice Act 1988, currently the Lord Brennan QC. In statutory cases the amount of an award is wholly a matter for the Assessor and the Home Secretary has no power to influence or vary his determination. In ex gratia cases the Assessor's role is to advise the Home Secretary but successive Home Secretaries have agreed to be bound by the Assessor's advice.In calculating the amount of compensation to be awarded to victims of miscarriages of justice, the Assessor applies principles analogous to those governing the assessment of damages for civil wrongs. The level of compensation is calculated in the same way whether the applicant qualified for compensation under the statutory scheme or the ex gratia scheme. The basis on which compensation is assessed is given in statute (section 133(4A) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988), in the Home Office "Compensation for Miscarriages of Justice—Note for Successful Applicants" (copies of which have already been placed in the Library) and in individual assessments.