In spite of a vigorous campaign, the new 2012 Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme came into force on 27th November 2012. It embodies sharp cuts (at least an estimated 25,000 victims a year may be affected).
Of course, it continues to be worthwhile to put in Criminal Injuries Compensation applications: even if, on face of it, some may not come within the terms of the new Scheme. The detailed scope of the new arrangements, to some extent, will depend on practice.
However, eligibility under the 2012 Scheme is, in general, limited to rather more serious cases than the broader 2008 Scheme. Accordingly, applicants would be well advised to seek expert advice from a specialist in most cases: although, of course, anyone can start off an application themselves by filling in the online CICA form.
As under the 2008 Scheme, specialist advice is particularly desirable where the client has a significant disability, whether mental or physical, or where the victimisation took place more than two years ago. Applications for waiver of the two-year time bar are, in some respects, even more complex than they were previously.
LSA continues, of course, to be interested in acting for victims wishing to put in Criminal Injuries Compensation applications.
We are, however, particularly interested in acting for applicants where the new 2012 Scheme, contrasted with the 2008 Scheme, creates a harsh result.
This will include the following:-
· EU residents who are not EU Nationals briefly visiting Britain
· Visitors from outwith the EU briefly visiting Britain
· Asylum seekers or victims of trafficking
· Individuals whose compensation levels under the new arrangements will be very substantially less (through, for instance, reduced wage loss) than they would have received under the old arrangements, particularly if the injury was incurred on or before 27th November 2012.
Where appropriate, LSA will be looking to identify Judicial Review points.
When the Government pushed the 2012 Scheme through Parliament in the teeth of opposition from, among others, its own supporters, it indicated that it would be making concessions. These have been announced and are by way of an additional discretionary Hardship Fund which provides temporary relief from financial hardship for very low paid victims of crimes of violence unable to work as a consequence of their injury. The funds provide a payment to victims whose injuries are not “serious enough” to fall within the 2012 Scheme. The time limits are draconian (only four weeks!).
In a deeply questionable arrangement, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority will only consider applicants referred by Victim Support (England and Wales). The Hardship Fund appears to have very limited scope but is obviously an improvement on the 2012 Scheme.
The bad news is that it does not apply to Scotland. Will the Scottish Government be introducing its own arrangements? Assuming it does, LSA would certainly support a much enhanced fund.
Meantime, LSA will be arranging seminars updating on the 2012 Scheme. These are scheduled to take place on Thursday, 31st January 2013 and Friday, 22nd March 2013. A must for everyone interested!