10 May 2017
The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD today published the General Scheme for the Garda Síochána (Compensation) Bill 2017.
This new legislation is intended to repeal and replace the Garda Síochána (Compensation) Acts 1941 to 1945 provides the statutory framework for Garda compensation claims.
The Tánaiste said:
“Members of an An Garda Síochána face real dangers every day to maintain the safety of our communities and keep our country safe. These proposals represent a major reform of the current compensation scheme. It will provide faster resolution of compensation claims for claimants, as well as reducing the legal and administrative costs.”
In summary, the Scheme aims to-
· repeal and replace the current legislative framework for Garda compensation, which has been in place for 76 years, with a more effective and efficient scheme giving rise to reduced legal and administrative costs,
· make provision for an independent assessment of quantum by the PIAB in accordance with the Book of Quantum, and
· provide for the management of claims by the State Claims Agency, which will also facilitate a risk assessment facility to afford An Garda Síochána the opportunity to avoid risks identified.
The Scheme will now be referred to the Justice and Equality Committee for pre-legislative scrutiny.
Notes for editors
The Garda Síochána (Compensation) Acts 1941 to 1945 provide for compensation in respect of death or injury which is maliciously inflicted upon a member of An Garda Síochána while on duty or in connection with their duties. The scheme operates on the basis that the injured member (or specified family members in the case of death) may apply to the Minister for authorisation for leave to apply to the High Court for compensation in respect of the injury received. The State bears all of the legal costs involved.
In pursuance of a commitment under the Croke Park Agreement, the Government approved, in July 2012, the General Scheme of the Garda Compensation (Malicious Injuries) Bill 2012. In essence, the Scheme devolved responsibility for matters relating to Garda compensation from the Minister to the Garda Commissioner with the added provision that the State Claims Agency would administer the scheme on behalf of the Garda Commissioner.
However, it subsequently emerged that the roles envisaged for the Commissioner and State Claims Agency would be incompatible with their statutory functions. In particular, under the National Treasury Management Agency (Amendment) Act 2000, the Agency’s role is to manage claims with a view to ensuring that the State's liability and associated legal and other expenses are contained at the lowest achievable level. Thus, the envisaged role for the Agency would create a conflict with the entitlement of applicants to who are found to be entitled to compensation to an independent assessment of quantum.
In these circumstances, the 2012 Scheme had to be revisited to ensure that applicants who were found to be entitled to compensation would receive an independent assessment of quantum.
The Scheme of the Garda Síochána (Compensation for Malicious Injuries) Bill 2017 makes provision for such an assessment to be made by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB).
General Note on Scheme
In summary, the Scheme is intended to operate along the following broad lines—
· the member will, within 6 months of the injury, submit an application for compensation to the Garda Commissioner,
· the Commissioner will arrange for the preparation of a report confirming that the injury was inflicted as a result of a malicious incident as defined in the legislation,
· if the report is to the effect that the injury was inflicted as a result of a malicious incident, the member is entitled to compensation,
· if the report is to the effect that the injury was not inflicted as a result of a malicious incident, the member will be able to seek a review by the independent review officer,
· if the review officer determines that the injury was inflicted as a result of a malicious incident, the member is entitled to compensation and the claim proceeds,
· where the report determines that the injury was inflicted as a result of a malicious incident, the report together with the application and accompanying documentation is to be sent directly to the PIAB and the State Claims Agency by the Commissioner or review officer, as the case may be,
· the PIAB will process the application in accordance with the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003 and will make an assessment of quantum,
· the applicant and respondent (State Claims Agency on behalf of Commissioner) will be notified of the assessment and will have an opportunity to accept or reject the assessment,
· if either or both reject, the PIAB will authorise the applicant to proceed to court,
· the State Claims Agency will manage the court proceedings on behalf of the State.