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Statement of Redress Board
Tuesday, 11th May 2004

The Residential Institutions Redress Board notes that inaccurate information has been disseminated concerning the settlement procedures of the Board. If uncorrected this may cause worry and upset to those whose applications are still before the Board.  
To assure applicants as to the true position, the Board has decided to again explain the process and update the information relating to settlements already in the public domain.

No applicant is required to or even encouraged to opt for settlement rather than hearing.  Settlements arise in cases where applicants voluntarily select that option on the application form for the processing of their application.  On rare occasions applicants may decide to opt for a settlement at a later stage having earlier sought a hearing.  No application goes to settlement without the agreement of both sides nor is any pressure applied by the Board to encourage such a course.

Contrary to the impression given by those who have commented publicly, rather than force applicants to settlement, even those who apply for that method of resolution may find that the Board itself selects hearing as the best method of considering the application.  For example those who are not legally professionally represented are not offered settlement, as the disparity in legal knowledge and negotiating skills at the settlement talks might render any settlement with such a person open to legal challenge.

The Board cannot comment on any particular case but recommends that those applicants who in the future wish to criticise the Board, in the event of being disappointed with the outcome of a hearing, should first examine their own documentation to remind themselves whether the settlement option was selected by them in their application.  Obviously no fair-minded person could suggest that applicants who themselves opted for settlement were denied the opportunity of presenting their case to the Board.

About eighty eight per cent of cases that go to settlement are finalised in the subsequent discussions, the remaining twelve per cent go to hearing.  The procedures in place, since the Redress Board commenced hearing cases, provide that a completely different subdivision of the Board, from that involved in the settlement discussions, hear such cases.  Further, the fact of and amount of any settlement sum offered and refused is withheld from the new subdivision of the Board who hear the evidence and they reach their decision in the normal way.  The process is totally independent of the settlement discussions which have already taken place.

It is an inevitable part of this process that the new and independent assessment will give different results from the settlement talks. The suggestion that a policy exists to reduce sums awarded in such circumstances is both inaccurate and defamatory of the Board.  Furthermore the objective facts totally refute such assertions. The outcome of such applications is as follows up to 10th May 2004.

Cases sent to hearing after failure of settlement

Award increased from sum offered at settlement    37   representing 57% of cases

Award reduced from sum offered at settlement       19   representing 29% of cases

Award same as sum offered at settlement               09   representing 14% of cases

Far from proving that those who go to hearing are penalised the opposite is true.

General Progress

The Board commenced settlements and hearings in May 2003.  In the twelve months since then the Board have completed 1070 cases.  The Minister has recently appointed two further board members bringing the total to ten.  This is likely to be the full complement and will enable the Board to fulfil its mandate in a timely fashion.  By the end of this calendar year it is hoped to have made two thousand awards.  However as the latest date for receiving applications is 15th December 2005 the process will not be complete until the end of 2006 at the earliest.

End of statement

 

 

 

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