It was estimated at 31 March 2007 that the potential liability in respect of compensation for miscarriage of justice was some £25 million. This estimate was based on the number of cases in which the Secretary of State had approved eligibility for compensation and in which the assessor was to make his final assessments. The performance of the independent assessor is monitored by the miscarriages of justice team in the Better Trials Unit of the Office for Criminal Justice Reform. A monthly audit of cases is carried out and regular meetings are held with the assessor. It is also open to any applicant who is dissatisfied with the assessor's handling of their case to seek a judicial review.
The independent assessor does not have a dedicated support office, but is able to look to the miscarriages of justice team to support him in administrative duties associated with his role. It is the responsibility of applicants to make written submissions to the independent assessor regarding the quantum of their claims, and he cannot make a final assessment until such time as those submissions have been made and agreed. Of the 38 cases in which a final assessment was made in 2006-07, 28 (76 per cent.) took more than two years from eligibility for compensation being approved to the final assessment. Over the five years from 1 April 2002 to 31 March 2007, the average length of the independent assessment process, that is from eligibility being confirmed to final assessment, was three years. As at 7 June there were 116 cases in which eligibility for compensation has been approved but a final assessment not yet been made. In 79 of those cases (68 per cent.) one or more interim payments have been made, on application by the applicants. There were 16 cases with the independent assessor for final assessment and three cases in which applications for an interim payment have been made. The total fee payments to the independent assessor in each of the last five years were:
£ 2002-03 62,436 2003-04 24,246 2004-05 20,325 2005-06 77,874 2006-07 92,660
The independent assessor does not make deductions from assessments for 'board and lodgings'. In certain circumstances he makes deductions in respect of saved living expenses. This practice was upheld by the House of Lords in a recent appeal. Central records of the amount of such deductions are not kept.