Proposals for a stream-lined Garda Compensation Scheme are contained in the draft general scheme of the Garda Siochana Compensation Bill 2012.
The new scheme relates to a death or injury which is maliciously inflicted upon a member of An Garda Siochana while on duty or in connection with official duties.
Under the current Garda Compensation Scheme awards are made by the High Court. The new scheme will be administered by the State Claims Agency on behalf of the Garda Commissioner. There will be a right of appeal from the award to a Judge of the High Court. The development of the scheme is a commitment in the Croke Park Agreement and should bring about speedier resolution of clams.
Speaking today about the new draft Bill, Liam Moloney, Litigation Solicitor, Naas, said today “ the new draft Bill contains many of the same provisions that existed under the Garda Siochana Compensation Acts 1941 and 1945. Applications in case of death must be made within 3 months of death and in case of injury, within 3 months of the date of knowledge. The application for compensation is made in the first instance to the Garda Commissioner and it is proposed that the scheme will be administered by the State Claims Agency”.
The draft Bill is silent as regards whether minor injuries will continue to be compensated. The basis upon which the Garda Commissioner will assess general damages will be the same basis as is used generally by the Courts in assessing compensation for other Civil Claims.
Mr Moloney continued “ the draft Bill also provides for the applicants legal costs being paid by the Garda Commissioner. It would appear that there is only going to be a fixed amount to be paid towards legal costs and the Gardai will have to bear the balance from their own awards. Applicants dis-satisfied with settlement offers will be able to appeal to Court but they are at risk of bearing costs if their award does not exceed the offers made’’.
Approximately 170-200 claims are submitted each year under the existing scheme. About 200 awards are made annually by the High Court and the time taken to finalise applications ranges from 3-7 years. In 2011 the costs of awards was €6 million and the legal costs amounted to €3.25million. At June 2012 there were 450 application awaiting determination by the High Court and a further 700 applications are on hand within the Department of Justice and Equality awaiting the final medical report which will permit a decision on Authorisation.