The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) is a government body which compensates victims of violent crime. The scheme was first introduced in 1964. Since then there have been a number of changes to the scheme. Applications made today will be dealt with under the 2012 scheme. For this reason the information provided deals with applications made pursuant to the 2012 scheme.
Victims of physical and sexual abuse may be able to obtain awards of injury compensation from the CICA. CICA awards (which are tariff based) are generally less than civil compensation (i.e compensation recovered via a civil claim). CICA awards are best described as a token or gesture of regret at what has happened to the applicant. It is possible to pursue a civil claim and make an application to the CICA in tandem. However, if civil compensation is recovered any award of compensation from the CICA must be paid back.
If you are considering making such an application you may want to consider the following:
- The rules surrounding time limits
The general rule is that criminal injury claims must be made by the applicant to the CICA as soon as reasonably practicable after the incident giving rise to the application and in any event within two years of the date of the incident.
The above is subject to extended times for children as follows:
- If the incident or period of abuse was reported to the police before an applicant turned 18, and no-one made a claim on their behalf the applicant has until their 20th birthday to lodge their application.
- If the incident or period of abuse took place prior to an applicant’s 18th birthday, but was not reported to the police at the time, an applicant has until two years from the date of reporting the abuse to the police.
Whilst the CICA has some discretion to waive the time limit they will only do so where it is found that the application could not have been made earlier due to exceptional circumstances and that the evidence provided in support of the application is sufficient in that a decision can be made without any further enquiries. This can be difficult to argue and applications should be made in time wherever possible.
- Are you eligible?
An individual is eligible if they are:
- A British citizen or a close relative
- A victim of trafficking
- A victim of a crime of violence on or after 1 August 1964 or after 1 October 1979 if the applicant was living with their abuser as members of the same family
- Reported to the police and fully co-operated with any enquiries. The absence of criminal proceedings or convictions does not preclude you an applicant from making an application
- How will the CICA value my injury?
The sum you are awarded is based on a tariff system and depends on a number of factors including the severity of your injuries and the nature and duration of the abuse.
When dealing with multiple injuries the CICA will award 100% for the most serious injury, 30% for the second and 15% for the third.
If you have been unable to work for a period of 28 weeks it is possible to claim for loss of earnings and special expenses. To qualify for this an applicant must have or have had “no, or very limited capacity for work” which can be difficult to demonstrate without supporting medical evidence.
- Grounds for withholding or reducing awards?
- Unspent convictions
The CICA can reduce or withhold payment if you have any unspent criminal convictions even if they are not related to your application (as unfair as this may be).
The CICA will consider an applicant’s conduct before, during and after the incident to consider if it contributed to the incident (not usually relevant in applications arising out of abuse and does not include being intoxicated or under the influence of drugs).
Your award may also be reduced if you do not cooperate with CICA and reasonably assist them during your application such as responding to requests for information or failing to let them know that you have changed address.
- Failure to report to the police
The CICA will withhold an award if an applicant does not report to the police. It is not necessary for the applicant to report to the police. Someone else can do this on their behalf. This reporting should be “as soon as practicable” after the crime has been committed.
- Character of the applicant
The CICA may withhold or reduce an award where the applicant’s character makes it inappropriate to do so.
How to make an application
An applicant can make an application online, by telephone or post. Information and assistance with this is often provided by agencies such as Victim Support or the police. It is not necessary to use a legal representative should an applicant not wish to do so. On receipt of the application the CICA will allocate a reference number and start collating all the information they need to enable them to consider the application fully. This includes obtaining information from outside agencies such as the police, doctors and hospitals. On completion of their enquiries the CICA will write to you with their decision.
The above is meant to provide basic assistance. If applications are refused it is possible to ask for them to be reviewed and following this appealed. The CICA receive a significant number of injury compensation applications every year. As a result of this even the most straightforward of applications can take years. However the CICA have recently introduced the option of allowing applications to be considered without medical evidence which they purport can be decided speedily. The writer is unable to comment on this further having not yet had the opportunity to “test this”.