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.
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.