Why do we need Infant Approval Hearings?
When a clinical negligence claim is brought on behalf of a child before it can be settled and compensation paid a judge is required to approve the amount that has been agreed. We call this an infant approval hearing.
Infant approvals are needed to make sure that the amount agreed on behalf of someone who can’t make the decision for themselves is the right amount. This is to protect everyone. It protects the child, making sure that the amount agreed properly compensates them for the injury; it protects the solicitors, parents or whoever is acting on behalf of the child from any suggestion by the child in the future that they made a wrong decision and it protects the Defendant from the child coming back in the future if the injury changes in a way no one envisaged at the time.
If a claim is settled on a full and final basis and is then approved by a judge it is finished in the same way that any adult claim would be. The only difference at that stage is that the compensation award is paid into a special court bank account where it is protected until the child is 18 (the rules are different if the child will never have mental capacity to manage their own affairs under the Mental Capacity Act 2005). The court will then pay the money to the child.
If the child needs some of their compensation before they are 18 an application can be made to the court for some of the money to be paid out but the person making the application needs to explain what the money will be used for. Usually the court will only approve a payment out if the child has an immediate need for something for their educational or physical needs, for example a computer that will help with school work. Again, the reason for this is to protect the child’s money from being used before they are 18.
If you think your child may have been injured as a consequence of medical negligence please get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss it with you.