Survivors of historical child abuse will not be prevented from seeking further damages should they apply to a national redress scheme, the Scottish Government has said.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney has said at least £10 million will be set aside to make £10,000 payouts to elderly and terminally ill survivors who were abused as children in care.
Lawyers have raised concerns that anyone applying to the national scheme could be precluded from later launching a civil claim. But the government yesterday said that would not be the case.
Details of the interim redress scheme were outlined in the Scottish Parliament last week, with applications expected to take around a month to be processed.
Survivors of child abuse, many now in old age, have been calling on the government to consider the issue of financial redress for many years.
However, there was some anger last week that the £10,000 figure being offered was “derisory”.
The initiative is only the precursor to a larger statutory scheme that will offer redress to all those who suffered abuse in care and could cost tens of millions of pounds.
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Survivors who apply for and are awarded an advance payment do not need to sign a waiver or halt any civil action. This includes at pre-litigation stage. If there is a successful recovery from a civil case, we do not expect any advance payment to be repaid.”
Earlier this week, it emerged that three siblings abused by paedophile Ian Samson at the Lord and Lady Polworth Children’s House in Edinburgh had secured damages totalling £1m from the Church of Scotland. Kim Leslie, a specialist abuse lawyer and partner at Digby Brown Solicitors who led the legal action, said the £10,000 redress payment was much lower than the sums being awarded in civil cases.
She said: “These are not the kind of figures that I’m settling cases for. We are settling at significantly higher levels. There is a range, but in excess of six figures is generally what we are settling out cases for.
“We need to make sure that survivors don’t think that redress is their only option. It might be the best option for them ... but what we don’t want is a survivor thinking that they must go for redress. We must make sure there is absolutely no suggestion that it’s an either/or. If they have gone down the redress route, they can’t be prevented at a later date from pursuing a civil suit.”