Changes for Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority and the impact on compensation claims

The scene of a crime.
The scene of a crime.
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Last year I got assaulted and got compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) for my injuries. I hear Government is reviewing the CICA scheme. What is happening?

The CICA compensates victims of violent crime. In December 2018, Justice Minister Edward Argar, MP, said there will be a “full consultation” on reform.

He said principles would “drive” the consultation. These include:

a) Compensation should be protected for those most seriously affected by their injuries. As a cynical old lawyer, Legal Eagle wonders whether this translates as: “We want to get shot of smaller CICA awards”?

b) Compensation is an important part of government provision of end-to-end support for victims of violent crime which also includes emotional and practical assistance of victims. As translated, might this mean in future you will be paid out only if the funds are spent on, for example, counselling or physio. Or even that funds will be paid direct to these or other third parties? Or you will just be given contact details of people who might help you.

c) The CICA scheme offers support to victims of violent crime who have been unable to seek compensation by other means.Translated this may mean: “If there is even the vaguest chance of compensation anywhere else forget about the CICA.”

Also to be looked at are eligibility requirements on decision-making and value of compensation of awards.

That includes the balance between serious and less serious physical and mental injury and the impact of the scheme’s rules on victims of child sexual abuse.

Legal Eagle wonders again – translated does this mean that the government wants to scrap awards for less serious mental and physical injuries?

The reference to child sexual abuse is interesting.

There is much concern that such victims have to relive their experiences by giving oral evidence at appeal hearings before compensation is paid.

There is concern also that if sexual abuse happened a long time ago the CICA rules a claim out of time. Perhaps the Government wants to put these things right.

The minister said the “opportunity” will be taken to see whether the scheme can be further simplified to provide easier access to compensation for eligible victims.

All Legal Eagle’s experience suggests that these fine words mean – “cuts”.

“Why so cynical Legal Eagle?” readers may ask? Well – because of that experience referred to above.

Versions of the scheme are dated 2012 – the present one – and 2008 and 2001 and 1996 and 1990.

Every single time since 1990 the scheme has been “reformed” it has been cut.

Sometimes by injuries randomly being removed from the scheme – e.g. since 2012 you cannot claim for a broken nose.

Awards that remain within the scheme are not updated for inflation – e.g. the highest award was capped in 1996 and has not gone up in the 23 years since then.

It should have nearly doubled to keep up with inflation.

Legal Eagle can also translate “consultation”. It can mean asking people what they think about something before you go ahead and do what you were going to do anyway.

Let us hope not so this time – being the victim of violent crime is bad enough without having the small amounts of compensation that may be available to you chopped down.

Ben Hoare Bell LLP has experience in CICA claims. To speak to a specialist solicitor phone 0191 565 3112 or email advice@benhoarebell.co.uk
Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for further information.