The Windrush Scandal: The claim process
MARK QUINN >
The consultation document sets out the broad proposals for how the scheme might operate in practice. A huge contributing factor to the Windrush Scandal was the onerous nature placed on people to evidence their right to stay in Britain. It will, therefore, be important that the Home Office is seen to create a compensation scheme which is easily accessible to all potential claimants. Accordingly, it is likely that the scheme will be available in both electronic and paper application formats.
The potential claimant will be required to confirm their lawful immigration status in the first instance, which will involve some form of identity check (passport, driving licence etc.). In terms of calculating claims, the scheme will look to take a flexible approach as some damages will be easily quantifiable (e.g. loss of salary or statutory benefits), whilst others (such as anxiety and distress) will be much more difficult to quantify. The consultation paper proposes that the scheme should:
“achieve a balance between simplicity, fairness, speed of case consideration and accuracy, addressing the individual aspects of each case”.
There is also reference to a potential ‘tariff style’ approach, which would list fixed amounts of payments to be made against different categories or levels of loss. In addition, discretionary awards could be made where a claimant demonstrates “exceptional individual circumstances that will be outside the scheme rules”. It is presently unclear what type of loss might warrant such “exceptional circumstances”, however, the term generally carries a high legal threshold.
The consultation paper indicates there will be minimum and maximum amounts with a cap on the latter to ensure “no individual receives a disproportionately high payment from the public purse”. This could well be a controversial area, as many victims of the scandal suffered irreparable hardship on the back of being denied an opportunity to work or indeed avail of medical treatment. Some have died. It is, in the circumstances, all the more important that potential claimants obtain professional legal advice, so they are not accepting substantially undervalued offers of compensation.
Ultimately, the Home Office has indicated the scheme will be as easy and straightforward as possible with a seemingly flexible approach to potentially novel areas of compensation. We will know more after the consultation closes in November.
Mark Quinn is a consultant solicitor with Taylor Rose TTKW specialising in civil litigation and dispute resolution. Should you wish to discuss any of the issues within this article or require his advice, do not hesitate to contact him on 01733 865 136 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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