Northern Ireland’s compensation increase for bereaved relatives ‘is not enough’

Northern Ireland's compensation increase for bereaved relatives 'is not enough'

Oonagh McClure

Grieving families are still being denied justice in Northern Ireland despite an increase in compensation, lawyers have warned.

The sum paid to relatives eligible for a statutory compensation payment for their bereavement has increased from £15,100 to £17,200 as of this week.

However, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has warned that the eligibility for the scheme is still too narrow.

Oonagh McClure, speaking on behalf of APIL, said: “The Department of Justice’s commitment to making inflationary increases to the level of damages is welcome, but significant reform of the law is needed to extend the group of family members who are eligible to claim bereavement compensation.

“Currently only bereaved spouses, civil partners, and parents of under-18s are eligible for statutory bereavement damages, while other relationships are disregarded. For example, partners may have built a whole life together but because they are not married, they are not eligible. The approach is incredibly unfair and is out of touch with society today.

“A sibling or step-parent might be the closest relative someone has and the loss could leave them utterly bereft. Even a child who has lost a parent because of someone else’s negligence is not eligible for bereavement damages.”

She added: “The system is much fairer in Scotland, where there is no problem with making case-by-case decisions and paying meaningful amounts of compensation to people who are bereaved because of the needless deaths of their loved ones.”

Share icon
Share this article: