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Financial compensation for victims of crime: tort damages as restorative justice?

MacAlister, David M
June 4, 2015

Source: (1999) M.A. thesis, School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University. Downloaded 25 February 2005.

Restorative justice has emerged as a signifiant development in criminal justice. Restorative justice seeks to mend the conflict between the victim, the offender and the community. One way in which this occurs is by holding offenders accountable for their wrongful conduct by financially compensating victims. Financial compensation for crime victims comes from a vanety of sources, and is analyzed in its historical context. The thesis traces the early role of financial compensation as a response to crime, the eventual separation of tort and crime, and the vanous ways in which crime victims have come to be financialIy compensated for their harm. It assesses the extent to which one avenue of victim compensation lying outside the realm of criminal justice, in the civil law of tort, meets some of the goals being advanced by contemporary restorative justice advocates. This is accomplished by analyzing ten years of reported case law in Canada.
According to the findings, the past decade has seen an increase in the use of tort law as a means by which cnme victims can obtain significant amounts of financial compensation for the harm they have endured. Damage awards appear to be increasing in recent years, with compensation being awarded under various heads of damage. The civil justice system bas gone through numerous
developments that facilitate the use of this system as a means by which compensation can be realized. These developments indicate that some of the goals being advanced for restorative justice in the criminal justice system are already at play in the civil justice system. These findings have important implications for the development of theory in restorative justice. Tort law in Canada meets sorne of the goals of restorative justice. As an exercise in loss distribution and corrective justice, the award of damages uader the law of tort provides a model that may contribute to the reform of the criminal justice system on [RJ] principles. Author’s abstract.


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