A recent successful case highlights the importance of the Criminal Injuries Application Scheme and in particular, the abolition of the ‘same roof’ rule, particularly in the context of non-recent sexual abuse cases.
Who are the CICA?
We have previously focused on the mechanics of the CICA scheme and who is eligible to make an application to the scheme for an award of compensation. In summary, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (‘CICA’) is a government-funded body that compensates eligible victims who have suffered psychiatric harm and/or physical injury as a result of violent and sexual crime after 1 August 1964. For many victims of physical and sexual abuse where the abuser is no longer alive or does not have enough money or assets to compensate the victim and there is no organisation to claim against, the CICA scheme is the only form of redress.
What is the ‘same roof’ rule?
The same roof rule prevented victims who had suffered injury (as a result of a violent and/or sexual crime) at the hands of a family member from claiming compensation from the CICA. This controversial rule was amended on 1 October 1979 allowing future victims to make an application. However, it was not ‘retrospective. This means you could make an application to the CICA after 1979, but if you suffered the crime at the hands of a family member before 1979, your application failed.
On 13 June 2019, the same roof rule was abolished by the government as it was found to be wholly unfair and unjust. This meant that anyone who had previously been prevented from making an application (by virtue of the same roof rule) could now do so subject to a two-year deadline of 12 June 2021. Applicants who at the time of the abuse were adults living with their assailant as members of the same family remain prevented from claiming compensation unless the applicant and assailant no longer lived together and were unlikely to do so again. The reason for this is that the CICA will not make an award if the assailant is likely to benefit from it.
This amendment to the same roof rule was welcomed by those working with and helping survivors of physical and sexual abuse, although the deadline remained a concern as the rule change was not widely publicized, and many victims were unaware of it.
We recently represented a lady who was able to benefit from the lifting of the ‘same roof rule’.
Ms X suffered horrific protracted physical abuse and neglect by her mother as a child between 1963 and 1979, all of which took place within the family home. In addition to this, she suffered sexual and physical abuse at the hands of her father who had separated from her mother and did not live in the family home. As a child, Ms X lived in constant fear and felt she had been ‘robbed of her childhood’. Ms X tried to get on with her life the best she could, but the abuse she suffered was always at the back of her mind and impacted her day-to-day functioning. Having summoned up the courage to do so, Ms X reported the abuse that she suffered to the Metropolitan Police on 19 June 2021. No further action was taken as her abusers were deceased. Given that they were deceased and had limited means whilst alive, the only option for Ms X was to make an application to the CICA for an award of compensation.
As an adult, Ms X suffered mental health problems and had been involved with mental health services. In addition, she suffered with relationship and trust issues, making it difficult for her to find and maintain employment.
Emmott Snell Solicitors submitted an application to the CICA on behalf of Ms X. The CICA were provided with copies of Ms X’s medical and police records. The CICA wrote to the Metropolitan Police who confirmed Ms X’s account. The CICA referred Ms X’s application to a clinical psychologist who opined that Ms X had suffered a severe permanent disabling mental injury as a result of the physical and sexual abuse she had suffered in and outside of the family home. In their decision letter, the CICA explained that when someone has sustained a mental injury as a result of sexual assault(s), they will be entitled to an injury payment for whichever of the sexual assault(s) or the mental injury would give rise to the highest payment under their tariff. In this case, the CICA made an award for the severe permanent mental injury Ms X had suffered. The CICA also acknowledged the significant physical abuse and made an award to reflect this. However, this was reduced to 30% as a secondary injury. Ms X received a well-deserved five-figure sum of compensation.
Whilst the June 2021 application has passed, anyone who is considering making an application should still do so as the CICA have the discretion to allow some applications through.
If you require assistance with this, you should not hesitate to contact Emmott Snell Solicitors on 01234 360140 or by message for an informal and confidential chat.