Children’s Compensation Claims
98% of respondents agreed that Government should legislate to compel court approval of settlements of compensation for children
The Department of Justice has just published the findings of a 2021 Consultation which asked interested parties and stakeholders for their views on the introduction of mandatory court approval of Children’s Compensation Claims.
Currently, insurance companies representing the ‘at-fault party’ may offer a sum of compensation directly to the parents of the injured child, and this can be accepted without obtaining court approval and sometimes without seeking legal advice. Representing members of the legal profession, the Children’s Compensation Counts campaign highlighted this consultation, encouraging people to make their views heard and ensure an end to the abuse of rights for children and young people in Northern Ireland.
Majority agree on protecting children’s rights in compensation claims
The publication of the findings has revealed that an overwhelming majority of respondents have voiced their opinion that the time is now for change. Specifically, 98% of respondents agreed that Government should legislate to compel court approval of settlements of compensation for children in cases in which legal proceedings have not issued, with nearly half of the respondents stating that legislation was important to protect children’s rights.
Maurece Hutchinson, Managing Director of JMK Solicitors, has been campaigning on this very issue for over five years, firmly believing that legislative change is long-overdue. Indeed, Lord Justice Gillen’s review of Civil Justice in Northern Ireland made this recommendation back in 2017.
Commenting on the findings, Maurece Hutchinson adds: “I’m delighted to see the Justice Minister believes that legislative intervention would be appropriate, particularly in light of the consultation responses.
“The collective voices of those who responded, including the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, the Children’s Law Centre, the Law Society of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Association of District Judges – broadly speak as one, we need a change to the law.
“The consultation is the first step in ensuring that the right amount of compensation goes to the right young person.”
However, any decision will fall to a new Minister of Justice and a new Assembly.
For Maurece and her fellow colleagues in the Children’s Compensation Counts campaign, the new Assembly must urgently table the responses of this consultation. It has been four years since Lord Justice Gillen made this recommendation and young people in Northern Ireland have waited long enough.
Maurece Hutchinson concludes: “We have campaigned for a long-time for this consultation, but our work is not over until it becomes law that there must be court approval of all settlements of compensation for children.
“My colleagues and I in the legal profession are committed to seeing this change and our views are supported by wider society. We’re calling on the new Justice Minister to make the findings of this Consultation a priority, and in doing so, protecting the rights of our young people.”
To read the findings of the consultation and view the other association documents, see https://www.justice-ni.gov.uk/consultations/consultation-minor-settlements
For further information:
Riki Neill / Jill McLernon, RNN Communications
028 9521 3621
JMK Solicitors are Northern Ireland’s Number 1 Personal Injury Specialists. With a team of over 100 people including a team of personal injury solicitors, we assist clients all over Northern Ireland. If you have suffered a personal injury, been in a road traffic accident, had an accident at work or suffered a medical accident, contact our team for a free consultation.