Damages for the damage done

Despite the evidence of judicial geology, certain media are prone to peddle headlines which regularly exclaim that this country is suddenly in the grip of some alien and corrosive “compensation culture”. Similarly shrill voices are also likely to blithely comment on an unprecedented rise of criminal behaviour in today’s society.

It may be surprising, therefore, to know that the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (C.I.C.A), was established to reflect  the times and needs of society, as long ago as 1964.

Not unlike the spirit behind the initiative in creating the NHS and Legal Aid, it is funded by us all as tax-payers and specifically designed to pay money to people who have been physically or mentally injured because they were the blameless victim of a violent crime. It even has the discretion to make financial awards to close relatives of the victim, including their spouse, partner, parents or children.

Subject to eligibility and an Applicant satisfying the necessary criteria, this public body can make awards that range from £1,000.00 to £500,000.00 and it is to be noted that an offender does not have to have been identified, convicted of, or even charged with a crime, for an Applicant to succeed.

In a recent recourse to the C.I.C.A, we represented a self-employed businessman of exemplary character. He had been callously threatened, in his own car, with a knife to his throat, for whatever cash he may or may not have had on his person.  Whilst he came to no physical harm, the cowardly and base actions of his assailant had an understandably detrimental effect upon his psychological well-being.

After we prepared and submitted his application, the C.I.C.A decided that he merited an Award of £1000.00, on the basis that he had suffered temporary mental anxiety as a direct consequence of the attack.

It was clear to us that such a decision did not adequately reflect the acute trauma that our client underwent.

Accordingly, we subsequently applied to have the matter reviewed afresh by a separate case-worker at the C.I.C.A.

Regrettably, they, too, upheld the original decision.

Undaunted, and with the client’s consent, we took the case to an Appeal Hearing.

Following our representations and the client’s own powerful testimony, we persuaded the Tribunal to make a full Award, for psychological injury lasting beyond two years, in the sum of £8200.00.

There is no doubt that our client, who was co-incidentally born in the very year that the C.I.C.A was established, would have preferred that the incident that led to this Award had never occurred.

There is also no doubt, however, that, contrary to media distortion, the introduction of this Scheme and its purpose then, as it is now, is to affirm the ancient rights of redress for our lawful citizens.

It also speaks volumes for society’s sympathy towards all innocent persons who suffer harm as a consequence of the wrongdoings of another.