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Illegal exclusion in Redress Abuse Cases

Comment on illegal exclusion in Redress Abuse Cases

Comment by Brian O'Reilly Solicitor, relevant to victims of residential institution abuse between the age of 18-21 when admitted or while in the home.

The Judgment of the High Court:

On 11th November 2008, Mr.Justice O’Neill delivered a judgment in a High Court case taken by a Residential Redress Abuse victim on her exclusion from the Redress scheme which also excluded her from entitlement to compensation for sexual and physical abuse.

The High Court Held that because this victim was over 18 but under 21 when admitted to the residential home, she was excluded from the scheme set up under the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002 and that exclusion was unlawful.

Reasoning in the case:

The reasoning behind the judgment was that victims admitted to homes at the time were themselves still “infants” at law – in other words they were under the age of majority as the age for legal adulthood was 21 at the time and the 2002 Act had, in effect, wrongly attributed the age of majority at the time as 18. This was held to be unconstitutional.

Result for Victims in homes aged 18-21:

This now opens the door to victims who, at the date of their admission to such homes or were abused in such homes between the ages of 18 to 21, to bring claims to the Residential Institutions Redress Board. It also raises the possibility of readmission of cases already rejected by the Board on the grounds of age.

What victims should do next:

Whilst this judgment may be appealed by the State, qualifying victims should consult their solicitors immediately to protect their interest. Most solicitors do not charge fees to victims over and above any award of legal costs granted by the Redress Board.

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