05/14/2013 08:45 EDT | Updated 07/14/2013 05:12 EDT

Abused residential school students could get more compensation

Former residential school students who were abused by other students may now get another shot at compensation.

Changes to the Independent Assessment Process are making new information available which lawyers for the students can use to build their case.

The changes have to do with former school staff's awareness of student-on-student abuse; in particular, cases where evidence shows staff witnessed student-on-student abuse, heard complaints about it, or should have known about it.

"In some cases it can make the difference between a survivor getting a $150,000 settlement and them getting zero," said Steven Cooper, an Edmonton lawyer who represents many former residential school students in the Northwest Territories.

But that evidence, and the decisions which are part of the Independent Assessment Process, are private.

Until now, it was up to the Crown to decide what information in one case was relevant to another.

But on Thursday, chief adjudicator Daniel Ish decided lawyers representing former students who claim they were abused by other students will have access to more information about some of those decisions.

Cooper said he will review all of his cases involving student-on-student abuse where claims were dismissed or reduced because there was no admission that staff should have known about it.