Picture of two sunflowers in memory of Peg and Leigh.

Update on fast track process for legally represented claimants

The Government and MSD has determined that all cases of historic abuse claims for those who were in state care be settled by 2020 where possible.

Given the number of claims being investigated, and the time consuming nature of investigations, a backlog of claims has built up over time.

Currently, a claim takes on average 27 months to investigate. As a result of this backlog, the Government agreed to implement the fast track resolution approach as an extra option for eligible claimants whose claims were received by 31 December 2014.

This fast track approach involves a face value assessment and a fact check of the claim rather than a full investigation, with most resulting in a financial offer and letter of apology from the Chief Executive.

The assessment process used under the fast track approach ensures consistency with past settlements for claims with similar levels of abuse. The fast track approach is completely optional, and if claimants do not want to accept the fast track offer then they may continue to have their claim fully investigated.

There is no budget cap for fast track settlements; however for budgeting reasons the Government must make provision in each year’s appropriations for what it believes is sufficient funding for each year. This has led to the incorrect assumption that a budget cap does exist.

Update on Fast track process for legally represented claimants

Offers have previously been made to all eligible claimants whose claims were received by 31 December 2014 and who were not legally represented.

The Ministry has now made offers to 263 claimants who were represented and had made claims by the end of December 2014. If you are a legally represented claimant and have any questions about this process, you should contact your solicitor in the first instance.

The Ministry had expected that by November 2015 it would have been ready to make offers of settlement to these claimants. This process was put on hold because in October 2015 many of those claimants lodged an application for judicial review, alleging that the Ministry had acted unlawfully in the way it had decided to develop and implement the fast track process.

The review was heard by the High Court on 9 May 2016 and the court dismissed the claim.

The Ministry welcomes the findings of the High Court judicial review which confirms the lawfulness of the development and implementation of the Ministry’s fast track approach for resolving historic claims.

The fast track approach was introduced in 2015 to help speed up settlement of historic claims of abuse or neglect while in care. It offered claimants a quicker way of having their claims investigated and resolved. It involved claims being categorised and then settlement offers being made that were consistent with past offers made for similar cases investigated through the standard process. Claimants were also free to reject a fast track offer and have their claims considered through the full standard process.

The High Court found that the fast track process did not breach any of the applicants’ rights, and is not contrary to natural justice. The Ministry has not erred in law in the development and implementation of the process.

The fast track resolution process had been on hold pending the outcome of this case. It was not possible to allow the process to continue while there was uncertainty about its legal status.

The Ministry’s Historic Claims team seeks to resolve claims of historic abuse directly with claimants in a way that promotes improved outcomes for the claimants. The Ministry acts in a fair and consistent way between claimants including when making any offers of financial settlement. The processes developed by the Ministry are designed to ensure consistency of payments made for claims that are similar in nature.

Picture of two sunflowers in memory of Peg and Leigh.

Documents

Cabinet paper: Resolving Historic Claims of Abuse - Proposal to Bring Funding Forward

Report: Resolving Historic Claims of Abuse - Proposal to Bring Funding Forward

Nov 2014

Report: Historic Claims of Abuse - Completion Strategy and Funding Implications

Feb 2014

Report: Timely Resolution of All Historic Claims of Abuse by The End of 2020

Oct 2013

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