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Last update: 04-11-2009
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Compensation to crime victims - Community law

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A right to compensation for all crime victims in the EU

Based on a proposal from the Commission, the Council adopted on 29 April 2004 a Directive relating to compensation to crime victims. The directive ensures that each Member State has a national scheme in place which guarantees fair and appropriate compensation to victims of crime. Secondly, the directive ensures that compensation is easily accessible in practice regardless of where in the EU a person becomes the victim of a crime by creating a system for cooperation between national authorities, which is operational since 1 January 2006.

What is the aim of the directive?

All Member States shall ensure that their national rules provide for the existence of a scheme on compensation to victims of violent intentional crimes committed in their respective territories, which guarantees fair and appropriate compensation to victims.

Compensation is to be available in national as well as in cross-border situations, ie regardless of the country of residence of the victim and regardless of in which Member State the crime was committed.

The definitions of what compensation should be paid out to each victim are left to Member States' discretion, provided that it is fair and appropriate.

The directive creates a system of cooperation between national authorities for the transmission of applications for compensation in cross-border situations. Victims of a crime committed outside their Member State of habitual residence can turn to an authority in their own Member State (assisting authority) to submit the application and get help with practical and administrative formalities. The authority in the Member State of habitual residence transmits the application directly to the authority in the Member State where the crime was committed (deciding authority), which is responsible for assessing the application and paying out the compensation. The directive provides for two standard forms.

The Commission makes available on the internet lists of the assisting and deciding authorities designated by the Member States and basic information on the compensation schemes in each Member State. For more information, you can consult the “Compensation on crime victims" section of the European Judicial Atlas in civil matters.


Existing EU and EC law on compensation to crime victims from the offender

The regulation on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters provides that the victim may sue the offender for damages in the same court that deals with the criminal proceedings, if this is possible under national law.

The same Regulation also lays down how a crime victim can enforce a judgement on damages against the offender in another Member State.

The framework decision on the standing of victims in criminal proceedings provides that the victim shall have the right to seek damages from the offender in the criminal proceedings. This avoids the need for the victim to start separate civil proceedings to obtain such damages. The decision also states that Member States shall encourage the offender to provide adequate compensation to the victims, as well as to promote mediation in criminal cases.

Reference documents

« Compensation to crime victims - General information | Community law - General information »


Last update: 04-11-2009

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