Who Compensates Victims of Terror? The Northern Ireland Troubles Permanent Disablement Payment Scheme

Professor Emeritus Clive Walker QC (Hon), Christiane Rabenstein

During the Troubles in Northern Ireland from 1969 to 1998 over 3,000 people died.

It is also estimated that more than 40,000 people suffered both physical and psychological injuries, and many of those still live with permanent disablement.

Yet, relatively few instances of loss have been compensated by tort law, and so most victims of terrorism must have recourse to programmes of state aid and compensation.

While the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 was relatively silent about ‘legacy victims’, in subsequent years, various remedies have been proposed and either discarded or applied. Some have been grand in conception, but the most workable have been adapted from a myriad of mundane pre-existing processes, including criminal process, inquiries, and inquests.

In that light, the latest attempt to afford justice to victims of terrorism is the Troubles Permanent Disablement Payment Scheme introduced under the Victims’ Payments Regulations 2020, which involves a new scheme, not of the ‘grand’ category but also not pre-existing, for the payment of pensions to persons severely injured in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

The Regulations which came into force in January 2020 set out the entitlement to victims’ payments, the amount and determination of such payments and establish the Victims’ Payments Board which will be responsible for determining who is entitled to payments in respect of an injury caused by a Troubles-related incident. After a number of delays, the Scheme is expected to open for applications from 31st August 2021. 

Unlikely to reach the giddy heights of the billions of dollars paid to the 9/11 victims, it might at least provide those who are still living, with some recompense. We discuss this scheme and its potential outcomes at the upcoming Victims of Terrorism Conference, hosted by Edge Hill University on 2nd July 2021. Click here for more information and to register.

Professor Clive Walker is Emeritus Professor of Law at University of Leeds.

Christiane Rabenstein is a Legal Adviser at PNLD, the Police National Legal Database, and co-author of Blackstone’s Counter-Terrorism Handbook

Photo by Jordan on Unsplash

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