Abuse survivors in Scotland must not be forced to sacrifice their legal rights to protect the very organisations which allowed abuse to take place in the past, lawyers said today.
Kim Leslie, spokeswoman for the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and partner at Digby Brown was commenting ahead of debate about the Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow (Thursday).
"As it stands, survivors of abuse who seek redress through the new scheme will have to waive their legal right to compensation afterwards," said Ms Leslie. “This, apparently, is to give the organisations where abuse has taken place an incentive to fund the new scheme.
“But many survivors will not be aware until it is too late that the new redress scheme, while well-intended, will not always necessarily be their best option of receiving the compensation they need to help rebuild their shattered lives.
"Childhood abuse can have a lifelong effect, with some survivors finding themselves unable to maintain relationships, or hold down jobs because of the trauma they suffered,” she said.
"Even the maximum £100,000 payment available under the scheme may be nowhere near the appropriate amount of compensation for some survivors. You cannot heal from childhood trauma of this nature in the same way as if you’d broken a wrist or ankle. Finding the courage to seek redress in the first place is difficult enough. To then find you are expected to sign away your legal rights is unfair and unjust."