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Another door opens for victims of sexual abuse

26 July 2018

The Court of Appeal this week handed down judgment in the case of JT v First-Tier Tribunal and Others opening the door for many victims of sexual abuse, who were previously prevented from seeking compensation from the CICA (Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority) to seek redress.

The CICA scheme of compensation was set up in recognition of the fact that victims of violent crimes should be entitled to some redress where those who have inflicted damage upon them are unlikely to have sufficient assets to pay them compensation.

One exception to the entitlement to compensation under the CICA has been the 'same roof' rule. Those who were victims of a crime at the hands of someone living with them as members of the same family between 1964 and October 1979 have not previously been permitted to claim compensation for that crime under the CICA scheme. The intention was that this rule would prevent any payment benefitting an offender in say a case of a husband attacking his wife.

Although the 'same roof' rule was removed from the CICA scheme on 1 October 1979, this did not have retrospective effect,meaning those individuals abused by a family member living in the same household between 1964 and 1979 had no claim under the CICA scheme.

JT was seriously and repeatedly sexually abused by her stepfather from before the age of 5 until she was 17. In 2012 her stepfather was convicted of a number of offences in respect of JT including rape, indecent assault and indecency with a child. He was also convicted of two counts of indecent assault in respect of a relative who was not living in the same household.

Whereas JT’s relative was entitled to a CICA payment and received £1,000 in respect of her abuse, JT’s claim was rejected on the basis of the 'same roof' rule. She appealed this decision, ultimately bringing her claim before the Court of Appeal on the basis that this rule was contrary to her human rights. Specifically, it was JT’s position that the 'same roof' rule was contrary to Article 14 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms – the prohibition of discrimination.

Having considered the background to the claimant’s case, the history of the CICA scheme and the relevant case law in this matter the Court of Appeal decided that the 'same roof' rule does contravene Article 14. Of particular relevance was the fact that the claimant’s application was treated differently to that of her relative. This was manifestly without foundation and in violation of Article 14. The claimant’s appeal was allowed and a declaration was made that JT was not prevented by paragraph 19 of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012 being paid an award.

This will no doubt be a welcome decision for those victims of abuse who have previously been left without redress.

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