Victims of crime in Ireland can only recover limited compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.
The Irish Criminal Injuries Tribunal considers applications from people who suffer a personal injury or death as a result of a crime of violence. The function of the state compensation scheme in Ireland is to provide a safety net for crime victims who in many cases cannot recover compensation from offenders.
The definition of what compensation should be paid out to each victim is left to the Member States discretion provided that it is ‘fair and appropriate’.
During 2009 the Tribunal awarded €4.2 million to crime victims and their dependents. They dealt with 97 applications for non fatal injury and 16 fatal applications in that year.
The European Commission adopted in April 2004 a Directive dealing with compensation for crime victims. This Directive sought to ensure that each member state had a national scheme in place which guaranteed fair and appropriate compensation to victims of crime.
Compensation may be awarded on the basis of any out of pocket expenses including loss of earnings experienced by a victim or if a victim has died as a result of an incident by the dependents of the victim who may also receive mental distress payments.
Victims are not entitled to recover damages for pain and suffering, infringement of personal integrity, long term mental suffering, scarring and disfigurement.
However compensation for pain and suffering is awarded in Belgium, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. Of these States, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France and Sweden offer additional compensation for moral damages or for the violation of the victim’s personal integrity.
In the United Kingdom, awards of up to €300,000 can be made for pain and suffering and other immaterial damages.
Commenting on the limited nature of this compensation scheme, Liam Moloney, Personal Injury Solicitor of Moloney & Co. Solicitors, Naas, stated,
“It is clear that people who are the victims of crime in Ireland are being discriminated against when it comes to appropriate and fair levels of compensation. The 2004 EU Directive stated that all Member States shall ensure that their national rules provide for the existence of compensation schemes which guarantee fair and appropriate compensation to victims of intentional crime.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme does not provide for compensation for pain and suffering for victims of crime. In a large number of cases victims are not being compensated adequately for very serious injuries inflicted upon them.
In many cases, victims recover physically fairly quickly following their injuries but the psychological effects of the crime might be long term and cause severe suffering and there is no compensation for these injuries.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme should be amended immediately to make provision for the awarding of compensation for pain and suffering to bring it into line with our UK counterparts and to ensure its compliance with EU law. A financial injustice is being done to victims of crime and it is only a matter of time before the state’s refusal to fully compensate victims is challenged in the courts.”
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme
What does the scheme cover?
The scheme pays compensation for expenses and losses suffered –
- as a direct result of a violent crime or whilst assisting or trying to assist in preventing a crime or
- Saving a human
Exceptions to the scheme
no compensation will be paid if:
- the victim and the assailant were living together as part of the same household when the victim suffered the injury
- if the injury is as a result of a traffic offence or a deliberate attempt to run down a victim
- the scheme only covers out of pocket expenses and bills. It doesn’t compensate for pain and suffering. It will however pay mental distress money for immediate family members of a murder victim