The Trustees are an independent public body, which has been given the task of administering the fund. The Trustees are not part of the Government, employed by the Government or agents of the Government. On occasion they may contact the Department of Health and Irwin Mitchell in relation to general difficulties of interpretation of the Trust Deed, but it is the Trustees who have sole responsibility for making decisions and awarding compensation payments in all of the individual claims.
The terms of the Trust Deed were negotiated and established before the Trustees were appointed. The Trustees did not, therefore, have any input into the Scheme. The Trustees have succeeded in negotiating a number of amendments to the Scheme, including recent revisions, which have increased the potential beneficiaries who can receive compensation and increased the amount of compensation paid, in certain circumstances.
Fieldfisher have been appointed as Secretariat and to advise the Trustees. The lawyers advising the Trustees are very familiar with the Scheme, having been involved since before the original Trust Deed was signed in March 2002. Fieldfisher’s role, either by way of direct contact with victims and families or their Solicitors, is to prepare the claims for submission to the Trustees. This includes contacting family members to ascertain whether they qualify under the Scheme and wish to make a claim, obtaining representations from families as to how the compensation should be distributed between the family members, doing calculations and preparing a financial summary, and obtaining documentary evidence for claims (for example, invoices and receipts). Fieldfisher try to make sure that complete information is made available to the Trustees so they can make decisions without delay whilst further information is obtained.
Claims are then sent to the Trustees for consideration in advance of the next Trustees’ meeting.
At the meeting, the Trustees consider the claims and make decisions as to the amount of compensation that should be paid and to whom. Fieldfisher are present at the meeting and may provide advice on the interpretation of the Trust Deed, scope of the Scheme, or provide more up to date information. The Trustees have sole responsibility for making the decisions relating to the claims.