Publication - FOI/EIR release

Miscarriages of Justice compensation schemes: FOI release

Published: 28 Jul 2020

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Published:
28 Jul 2020
Miscarriages of Justice compensation schemes: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202000047674
Date received: 15 Jun 2020
Date responded: 7 Jul 2020
Information requested

1. James Boyle was refused compensation from the Miscarriages of justice compensation schemes. What reasons were there for this refusal? Was this to do with the 'not proven' verdict? and if so then why? as it can be argued that a not proven and a not guilty verdict have the same impact- they are both acquittals and there are no legal consequences for the accused if they receive a not proven verdict;

2. How many miscarriages of justice compensation claims are made in Scotland every year, and how many of these are refused;

3. What is the main reason/ most common reason for the refusals;

4. Do you have any indication of how much the government saves in compensation money every year because of the not proven verdict.

Response

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because exemptions under FOISA apply to that information. Where I am unable to provide the information, the exemptions and the reasons why an exemption applies are explained below.

Request 1
An exemption under section s.38(1)(b) of FOISA applies to this information, because it is personal data of a third party. This is an absolute exemption and there is no requirement to consider the public interest. When an applicant's claim for compensation is rejected, they will receive a letter setting out the Scottish Government's decision on their application. You may wish to contact Mr Boyle to ask if he is prepared to share this with you.

Request 2
Please find attached at Annex A the number of applications for compensation as a result of a miscarriage of justice received per year by the Scottish Government since 1999. I should highlight for the number of applications received this year (until June 2020), this may exclude postal applications to the Scottish Government during the period of building closures as a result of Coronavirus. 
I can advise of the 88 applications received, 49 have been rejected, 22 have been accepted, 9 were discontinued (which is to say that the applicant either withdrew their application or failed to respond to requests to provide further information required to determine their application), 1 is on hold and 7 remain live.

Request 3
The Scottish Government does not have the information that you have requested. The determination as to whether applicants for compensation following a miscarriage of justice are eligible for compensation  depends on an analysis of the individual facts and circumstances of each case and the representations put forward by the applicant and/or his or her representative. 

As you may be aware, the Scottish Government operates two schemes for compensation following a miscarriage of justice, the statutory scheme at section 133 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 and the Ex gratia scheme. In any given case, there may be a number of reasons that an applicant is not eligible for compensation under either the statutory or ex gratia schemes and the Scottish Government does not hold a record of the different ground(s) on which each unsuccessful application was found not to be eligible for compensation.

Therefore, under section 17(1) of FOISA, the information you have requested is not held by the Scottish Government.

More generally, however, further information about the two schemes can be found at https://www.mygov.scot/compensation-miscarriage-justice/eligibility/
In general terms, where an applicant is found not to be eligible for compensation under either of these schemes, it will be because their case does not meet the eligibility criteria for either of the two schemes.

Request 4
This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the information you have requested is not held by the Scottish Government.

It might be helpful, however, if I set out the main eligibility criteria for each scheme.  Under the statutory scheme, a person may be able to claim compensation if they have been convicted of a crime and:

  • the conviction has been reversed on appeal; and
  • the appeal was successful because a new fact shows beyond reasonable doubt that there has been a miscarriage of justice.

Under the Ex gratia scheme, a person may be able to claim compensation if they have spent time in custody because of a wrongful conviction or charge where:

  • It can be established that there has been serious default on the part of a police force or of some other public authority resulting in the wrongful conviction or charge, or
  • There are exceptional circumstances that justify the payment of compensation.

More detailed information about the operation of each scheme can be found at the link provided above.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG