Recommendation 18 of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) related to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (‘CICS’ or ‘the Scheme’). In particular, IICSA recommended that the CICS should be amended to:
On 18 July 2023 the CICS published their additional consultation (‘the Consultation’) inviting specific views on potential reforms to the scope and time limits of the scheme; the Consultation will continue until 15 September 2023.
Scope of the Scheme
The Scheme in its current form provides that a person “may be eligible for an award under this Scheme if they sustain a criminal injury which is directly attributable to their being a direct victim of a crime of violence committed in a relevant place”. The meaning of “crime of violence” is described as being a crime which involves:
Potential Reform of the scope of the Scheme
The two options identified for potential reform are as follows:
However, it remains an option to make no changes to the scope of the current Scheme. The Consultation considers that widening the definition would mean going far beyond the original intention of the Scheme and the current definition already captures a broad range of circumstances. Further, by changing the definition there is a risk that the Scheme would become “operationally unworkable and unaffordable”.
Current time limits
Claims to the Scheme must be made as soon as practicable and within two years of the date of the incident which resulted in the injury.
If the incident was reported when the victim was under the age of 18 then the application must be received on or before their 20th birthday, or within two years after the incident was first reported to the police if the victim reported the incident on or after their 18th birthday. However, claims submitted outside of the relevant time limit are considered where there are “exceptional circumstances” regarding why the victim could not have made their application earlier or where the evidence provided means that extensive enquiries to resolve the claim are not required. For example, if the victim has recently secured convictions against their abuser.
Potential reform on time limits
In view of IICSA’s recommendations, the following options for reform are under consideration:
The Consultation now invites views on each approach and on how the reforms could be implemented.
In circumstances where any of the options for reform are implemented, this could potentially result in an increase in the number of victims of child sexual abuse seeking compensation through the Scheme. This is most likely to impact those victims of child sexual exploitation (‘CSE’) who had previously been prevented from making an application as a result of criminal convictions that arose directly as a consequence of the CSE they had suffered.
However, from the victim’s point of view it may often be the case that the civil claims process remains the most beneficial in terms of the extent of the award they can expect to receive, as this includes not only redress for general damages but also special damages. However, as IICSA demonstrated, the civil claims process can often be traumatic in itself with the need to provide information and evidence far beyond what would be required under the Scheme. Accordingly, claims volumes may remain static for some time and it remains to be seen how any amendments to the Scheme will impact on the extent to which civil claims are still pursued.
For more information, please contact:
Patrick Williams - Associate
The service you deliver is integral to the success of your business. With the right technology, we can help you to heighten your customer experience, improve underwriting performance, and streamline processes.