Skip to main content

Miscarriages of Justice (Compensation)

Volume 448: debated on Tuesday 11 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to his written statement of 19 April 2006, Official Report, columns 14-17, on miscarriages of justice (compensation), how much will be saved by the reforms to (a) the statutory and (b) the discretionary compensation scheme for victims of miscarriages of justice. (82061)

It is estimated that in a full year savings of approximately £3 million could result from the changes that had immediate effect on 19 April (the abolition of the discretionary scheme, the assessor taking greater account of applicants' other convictions or any contributory conduct, and the payment of legal costs at legal aid rates). Full-year savings will take some time to accrue because of the number of cases that were already in the system prior to 19 April. Legislation to cap the maximum amount payable to £500,000; to enable the assessor to make deductions from both the non-pecuniary and pecuniary awards; and to reduce awards to nil in exceptional cases could yield further savings of some £2 million per year. It should be noted that the changes to the compensation schemes were not driven by a desire to make savings, rather to ensure that compensation following a miscarriage of justice is more proportionate to the level of injustice, to achieve a better balance with the treatment of victims of crime, and to make the system simpler and fairer, ensuring that applications are settled much more quickly than in the past.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many compensation claims for miscarriage of justice have been accepted under the discretionary scheme as a result of (a) serious default on the part of the police or another public authority, (b) complete exoneration, (c) judicial error and (d) other exceptional circumstances. (82334)

In the five-year period from 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2006, a total of 53 applications for compensation for miscarriages of justice were approved under the discretionary scheme. Of these, 40 were approved on the basis of serious default by a public authority, five on the basis of complete exoneration, four on the basis of judicial error, and four on the basis of other exceptional circumstances.