A victim who is in financial hardship can request an advance on their compensation (an interim payment). This will only be made if the claim is likely to succeed [Victims of Crime Act 2001 (SA) s 27(4)(a)]. If, however, the claim ultimately fails, the interim payment has to be paid back. In instances where the amount eventually awarded is less than the amount provided under interim payment, the shortfall must be repaid [s 29(1)].
In some cases where a claim cannot succeed for legal reasons, the Attorney-General can make a grace (or ex gratia) payment.
Examples of when grace payments can be made include:
- where there cannot be a conviction because the suspect has a legal defence of intoxication, duress or automatism; or
- where the offence occurred, and the offender was convicted, in another jurisdiction, but the victim has tried unsuccessfully to obtain compensation through the legal system there. The victim must normally live in South Australia, and the Attorney-General must be satisfied that the victim would have been entitled to compensation if the offence had happened here; or
- in other cases where, for any other reason, the Attorney-General thinks it is in keeping with the Act to make a payment.
In this way, the Attorney-General can compensate people who have suffered harm as a result of criminal conduct, even if a conviction is not obtained. There is, however, no legal entitlement to these payments. It is up to the Attorney-General to decide whether any payment should be made, and if so, how much.
Further, for offences committed on or after 1 January 2003, the Attorney-General has power to make a grace payment to help a victim recover from the effects of criminal offending or to advance their interests in any other way [s 31(2)]. This applies whether or not the victim was injured. A victim can request a payment by writing to the Attorney-General via the Crown Solicitor’s office.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.