Compensation for families whose loved ones have been needlessly killed in Northern Ireland is ‘wretchedly inadequate’, say lawyers as they urge for the level of payment to be increased.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) launched a consultation on Monday (5 October) about whether the level of bereavement damages, which currently stands at £11,800, should be increased.
“Bereaved families deserve better from the justice system when their loved ones’ deaths could and should have been avoided,” said Martin Hanna, Northern Ireland representative of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL). “As it stands the payment is wretchedly inadequate, so we welcome any progress on rectifying this”.
“Bereavement damages in the UK are a lottery based on where the death happens,” Mr Hanna explained. “The level of payment is at its lowest in Northern Ireland at £11,800, and is nearly £1,200 more in England and Wales. In Scotland, the system is much fairer, with each case judged and evaluated on its own merits.”
The DOJ paper says that any increase in the payment should either bring them in line with England and Wales at £12,980, or with the level of inflation, estimated at £14,339.
“No amount of money can ever replace a loved one, but bereavement damages do at least acknowledge that a death has been caused needlessly. This issue with the level of payment is not about replacing what is lost, but about looking after those left behind,” Mr Hanna added.
The DOJ consultation closes on 30 November.
Notes to editors:
•The Department of Justice Northern Ireland consultation paper is here: http://www.dojni.gov.uk/index/public-consultations/current-consultations/bereavement-damages-consultation.pdf
• APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) is a not-for-profit organisation whose members are dedicated to campaigning for improvements in the law to help people who are injured or become ill through no fault of their own.
•For more information contact APIL’s press and communications officer Jane Hartwell on t: 0115 943 5416, m: 07808 768623, e: firstname.lastname@example.org or assistant press and communications officer Ben Yates on t: 0115 943 5431, e: email@example.com.
•Visit the association’s website at www.apil.org.uk.
•Follow @APIL on Twitter: www.twitter.com/APIL.