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child sexual abuse and issues of consent in a 21st century world

20 July 2017

A freedom of information request has found that since 2012, nearly 700 child victims of sexual abuse have had payments refused by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) on the basis that they 'consented' to the acts.

This is an issue that is very much in the minds of lawyers dealing with civil claims relating to child abuse. The case of JL v Archbishop Michael George Bowen and The Scout Association at first instance illustrates the delicate analysis even a court has to adopt in dealing with claims for historical abuse.

In that case, HHJ Platts concluded that the claimant’s apparent consent between the ages of 16 ½ and 18 could not be regarded as free or true consent, since he had been groomed for eight years.

In the 21st Century, with online grooming becoming more prevalent, can the existing rules be applied appropriately?

In February this year, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) identified a number of potential issues with the current CICA compensation scheme; not only consent.

Matters such as the provision for a 'crime of violence', cut-off dates and the 'same roof' rule have all been raised with IICSA. The inquiry will also consider matters such as withholding awards due to unspent criminal convictions, the application process and awards generally.

In an ever-changing technological landscape, it is clear that issues of consent should not be overlooked. The findings of IICSA are likely to be of great interest to all involved, both the CICA claims and other forms of reparation.

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Children Act 1989 – Section 20 and consent

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The recent introduction of the new Inspections of Local Authority Children’s Services (ILACS) system has been met with some trepidation from the sector.

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