Bolt Burdon Kemp has won the first test case against the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) in respect of applications made outside of the two year time limit under the new 2012 CICA Scheme.
The CICA scheme
On 27 November 2012, the CICA introduced a new scheme (“the 2012 Scheme”) which imposed a two year time limit for survivors of child abuse to claim compensation from the scheme. The time period starts to run from the date that the abuse s first reported to the police, and may only be extended when the applicant has “exceptional reasons for not applying earlier”.
Our client’s application
Bolt Burdon Kemp acted on behalf of Mr J who was sexually abused by his boarding school housemaster when he was aged between 11 and 13. Like many survivors of child abuse, it was not until many years later, and with the assistance of therapy, that Mr J felt able to report the abuse he suffered to the police. He did so when he was in his thirties.
The police investigation into the abuse was prolonged by Mr J’s abuser failing to attend preliminary court hearings on several occasions. When the prosecution finally went to trial over two and a half years after Mr J initially reported the abuse to the police, his abuser was acquitted.
Six months after the criminal trial, Mr J made his application to the CICA, who rejected his application on the grounds that it had been made more than two years after he reported the abuse to the police.
Mr J then instructed Bolt Burdon Kemp who took his case to appeal before the First Tier Tribunal. The CICA argued that Mr J did not have exceptional reasons for not making his application earlier.
Bolt Burdon Kemp successfully argued that the applicant had the following exceptional reasons for not making his application earlier:
- The delayed criminal process,
- The trauma on Mr J of the acquittal verdict,
- The continuing effects that child abuse has on survivors,
- The gradual nature of disclosing sexual abuse, and
- Mr J’s personal circumstances
These were all accepted as exceptional reasons why Mr J did not apply to the CICA earlier. The First Tier Tribunal duly extended the time limit and ordered the CICA to make a payment of compensation to Mr J.