Victims of deliberate offences (assault, rape, etc.) which result in bodily injury may, under certain conditions, receive compensation from the State if they cannot be compensated by an offender who has not been identified or found or is insolvent.
Who is concerned
Any person having suffered physical injury in Luxembourg or abroad as a result of deliberate acts which constitute a criminal offence.
In order to qualify for compensation, the following conditions must be met:
- for offences committed in Luxembourg, victims must either:
- have their legal and usual place of residence in Luxembourg;
- be legally present in Luxembourg at the time of the offence;
- be a national of a Member State of the European Union (EU) or of the Council of Europe;
- be a victim of human trafficking;
- for offences committed abroad, victims must regularly and habitually reside in Luxembourg.
Regardless of where the offence was committed, the following conditions must also be met:
- the injury suffered must be the result of deliberate acts (assault, rape, etc.) which constitute a criminal offence;
- the deliberate acts must
- have caused bodily injury resulting in death, permanent disability or a total incapacity for work of more than one month; or
- constitute the offence of indecent assault or rape;
- the injury must cause a serious disruption of life circumstances resulting from:
- a loss or reduction in income;
- an increase in exceptional expenses or charges;
- the inability to engage in a professional activity;
- the loss of one year of schooling;
- physical or mental injury or non-material or aesthetic damage or physical or mental suffering (victims of indecent assault or rape are exempt from reporting evidence of harm to their physical or mental integrity as it is assumed in their case);
- victims are unable to obtain effective and sufficient compensation in any way (e.g., from the offender, the social security services, private insurance, or another State if the offence was committed abroad).
Compensation may be refused or reduced on account of the victim's behaviour when the offence occurred or their relationship with the offender.
How to proceed
Filing an application
Applications for compensation must be sent to the Ministry of Justice, which will take a decision within 6 months.
The application must:
- be submitted within 2 years of the date on which the offence was committed:
- if the offender is prosecuted, that period shall not expire until 2 years after the final decision of the criminal court or a subsequent final civil decision obtained by the victim;
- for victims under 18, the 2-year period doesn't begin before they turn 18 if the actions are punishable by criminal penalties (such as imprisonment for over 5 years) or constitute the following offences: indecent assault, rape, human trafficking, assault with aggravating circumstances or poisoning;
- be written in Luxembourgish, French or German;
- specify the date, place and exact nature of the acts of which the applicant was a victim;
- be accompanied by documents that provide evidence of the acts (police reports, etc.) and the injury suffered (medical certificates, etc.).
Victims may also seek help and advice on submitting their applications from the Legal Reception and Information Service (Service d’accueil et d’information juridique) and the Victim Support Service of the Central Social Assistance Service (Service central d'assistance sociale).
Processing the application
After an application is received, the Minister of Justice forwards it for approval to a commission consisting of a magistrate, a senior civil servant of the Ministry of Justice and a lawyer.
Applicants will be summoned by the commission to be questioned on how the acts occurred and what harm was suffered. This hearing is not public and the applicant may be assisted by a lawyer or a representative from the Victim Support Service. The commission may conduct any hearings and investigations it may deem necessary, seek expert opinions, and request that any individual or corporate entity, authority or public institution, including tax authorities and banking institutions, submit information on the professional, financial or social situation of the people who may be responsible for the harm caused by the acts.
If the identity and place of residence of the offender are known, the commission will inform the offender of their right to submit comments within one month of receiving the notification letter.
During the enquiry, the Minister of Justice may, if necessary, grant the applicant provisional compensation.
After enquiry, the commission will forward an opinion to the Minister of Justice on the merits of the application and the amount of compensation to be awarded.
Further to the opinion, the Minister of Justice decides whether or not to award compensation to the victim.
Currently, no more than EUR 63,000.00 may be awarded as compensation (the amount is set annually by Grand Ducal regulation).
If compensation is awarded, victims whose injuries have subsequently worsened may claim additional compensation within 5 years of the date on which the principal compensation was paid. However, both payments combined may not exceed the maximum amount of compensation that can be awarded.
Offences committed in another Member State of the European Union
Applicants ordinarily resident in Luxembourg who were the victim of an intentional violent offence in another Member State of the European Union are entitled to seek assistance from the Luxembourg Ministry of Justice on obtaining basic information about the possibility of claiming compensation in that other Member State, and on submitting the documents for their compensation claim to the competent authority in that other Member State.
The Ministry of Justice will assist victims in the same way if additional information is required by the decision-making authority of the other Member State.
The Ministry of Justice will cooperate, if necessary, in the questioning of the victim by the decision-making authority, through teleconferencing or other means. It may also be instructed by the decision-making authority to collect oral statements from the victim, a report of which will then be sent to the decision-making authority.
Appeals against ministerial decisions
Victims who do not accept the decision of the Minister of Justice may bring an action to determine the compensation, or provisional compensation, against the State (represented by the Minister of Justice) before the Luxembourg or Diekirch District Court.
The action must be brought within 3 months of receiving the decision of the Minister of Justice. If the Minister of Justice has not taken a decision within the 6-month time limit, victims may bring the matter before the District Court after the expiry of that time limit.
Decisions by District Courts are final. Neither victims nor the State can appeal against their judgements. Appeals on points of law against their judgements are, however, possible.
Repayment of compensation
If a victim receives effective reparations or compensation for their injury after payment of the compensation or provisional compensation, the Minister of Justice may order the full or partial repayment of the compensation or provisional compensation.
Persons who have obtained or attempted to obtain compensation on the basis of information which they knew to be inaccurate shall return the money received and may be sentenced to imprisonment from one month to 5 years and a fine of between EUR 251.00 and EUR 30,000.00.