Right to compensation

Victims’ right to compensation is an acknowledgement of the damage they have suffered (e.g. physical and psychological suffering, possible after-effects and resulting financial consequences, material damage).

The purpose of compensation is to make up for the loss resulting from the various injuries suffered by the victim, and to restore them (as much as possible) to a situation equivalent to their situation before the crime.

In general, to be compensated for their loss, victims can turn to their insurance, the courts, or a compensation fund (the FGTI – Guarantee Fund for Victims of Terrorist Acts and Other Offences, mostly).

Some situations can be covered by insurance: this is the case for traffic accidents, burglaries, etc.

In addition, victims can also take legal action and claim compensation for their loss:

  • either from a civil court if they know the offender. They will have to prove their loss, and that this loss was the fault of the person who caused the damage.
  • or from a criminal court: the victim, by registering as a civil party, will become a party to the criminal proceedings and will be able to ask the court for compensation for the harm they have suffered (this is called ‘damages’).

However, in order to guarantee compensation for victims in particularly serious situations, the law has also set up compensation schemes, based on national solidarity, which can be activated independently and under certain conditions.

Victims of serious personal injury can apply to the CIVI (Crime Victims Compensation Board), a civil body within each court that rules on compensation claims made by victims or their dependants.
There are deadlines and various conditions to be met. The victim does not have to wait for the court to hand down a judgement awarding them damages before they can submit a claim for compensation to the CIVI, the essential requirement being proof of the existence of an offence that caused the damage.

Furthermore, if the offender does not pay the victim the damages owed, following a court decision, the victim may apply to the SARVI (Crime Victims Compensation Recovery Service) in order to obtain compensation, under certain conditions.
The SARVI can help victims who have registered as a civil party and who have suffered personal injury or material loss which has been the subject of damages awarded by a court, but which cannot be compensated by the CIVI. SARVI pays part or all of the amount of the conviction, and then recovers the money from the convicted person.

For more information on compensation, do not hesitate to contact a lawyer or a victim support association.

I was a victim of a criminal offence: consequences and reactions The rights of victims of a criminal offence Criminal proceedings Who is who in criminal proceedings

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