If you have been the victim of sexual abuse or a sexual assault either as an adult or a child, you may be eligible to make a claim for compensation under a government scheme.
You can make an application under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) scheme which involves NO court proceedings and NO cross examination. There are strict rules regarding eligibility and it is therefore important that you get advice on your legal rights.
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Our team of compassionate knowledgeable experts can guide you through the abuse claims process and speak to you in complete confidence. Call us for a no obligation discussion about your case, we will confirm your options and discuss your entitlement to make a claim.
BREAKING NEWS: January 2019 – Sexual assault forensic centres are failing victims. Read why and how we can help if your police case fails.
Historical abuse claims by their very nature are complex and the last thing a victim might have on their mind will be a compensation claim. However the CICA scheme has a number of key deadlines for certain cases that must be adhered to. To check your deadline and claim eligibility use our time limit calculator below. It is possible to extend the time limit for claiming if you can show that there was a significant reason (eg: ongoing mental health issues) for not being able to claim earlier.
Time limits can be a complex issue and it is recommended that you seek advice where possible before making your criminal injuries application.
This is probably the most common question that we deal with on our helpline. It is perfectly sensible to assume that the court case or police investigation would need to be finalised before any claim is made. However the problem is that if there is a 2 year window to claim from say the police notification date, this time will soon pass and most cases will take longer than 2 years to actually reach court.
Yet on the other hand by claiming prior to the court case or verdict you may have to disclose you are seeking compensation (the police will be aware in any event) and the defence may raise this as a direct question on cross examination. It feels like catch 22 and in many ways it is.
The priority for most people is the court verdict and a successful outcome, rightly so. Justice comes first but it also comes in two parts. The second part is your right to be compensated for what you have been through. It is not fair that any delay incurred awaiting the criminal justice system should impact your right to a victim award.
We are pleased to say that in 2018 the CICA relaxed their approach in such cases and they will now (in most instances) allow a late application if it can be shown that legal proceedings finished relatively recently. However how recent remains a source of some debate. If for example your case is 6 months late after completion of the court case you may struggle to get the claim in. The best advice her is to get advice – we can help with late claims in any abuse related case.
There can be no doubt that pursuing a criminal case against an offender is one of the most difficult experiences imaginable. For some victims this experience can be made significantly worse if an unwanted verdict is returned by the jury. If the offender is found not guilty you may rightly ask whether this would have a direct impact on any compensation case.
The truth is that most cases that reach court have been approved by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and that is a very strong positive indicator for the CICA who usually will not allow a bad day in court to prejudice an otherwise credible application. The jury system in the UK is not perfect and not all verdicts are fair.
So the disappointment of an acquittal verdict need not be compounded by a failed compensation case. Do not be put off making your claim in these circumstances.
If you are an eligible claimant then the CICA may make an award under their tariff of injuries which is a sliding scale of compensation payouts depending on the specific circumstances of the abuse. The payment is aimed at compensating you for the acts and the injury caused. Whilst no amount of money can ever truly compensate you the governments system is aimed at recognising your suffering and offering some redress.
The key factors in determining the level of the award will be the nature of the abuse (ie: penile penetrative or molestation) and the period of suffering. Penile penetrative abuse occurring for up to 3 years can lead to an award of £16500. If this form of abuse lasted more than 3 years the award lifts to £22,000. Cases involving molestation will usually carry an award in the region of £3300. You can estimate the value of your likely award here.
If you have been out of work as a result of the abuse perhaps because of your mental health, then a claim for loss of earnings may be possible. The CICA will only pay earnings at the rate of £92.05 per week which is the governments level of statutory sick pay (SSP) as of April 2018. The first 28 weeks of any period of absence is ignored but thereafter an award will be considered but subject to the following strictly applied conditions:
1) The first condition is that as a direct result of the injury for which the applicant is eligible for an injury payment they have NO or very limited capacity for paid work.
2) The second condition is that the applicant:
(a) was in paid work on the date of the incident giving rise to the injury, or, in the case of a series of incidents, at any time during the series;
(b) had been in regular paid work for a period of at least three years immediately before the date of the incident giving rise to the injury; or
(c) had a good reason for not having been in regular paid work for the period mentioned in paragraph (b).
No you do not need a representative unless you have a complex case (as explained these cases are not straightforward) or would prefer not to deal with the government directly. You can reach the CICA on 0300 003 3601 if you wish to go direct. Our recommended course of action is to have a chat without any obligation to an experienced legal advisor before you decide on the best way forward. You can speak to us informally and we will explain what options you have.
The government do not allow for legal fees to be recovered for any CICA claim. Legal Aid is no longer available either so how you might ask do legal firms get paid? Put simply our firm and many others offer a No win No fee service whereby no fee is charged if the claim is refused. On the other hand if the claim succeeds and an award is made, our legal fee will be 25% of the compensation award which means you receive 75% of the full amount.
The benefit gained is that you have a professional legal team working for you and pay nothing up front. You only every pay a fee if you win your case and the sum due is deducted from compensation paid by the government. Remember you do not need a representative – but many choose quite rightly to instruct one for reasons explained.
For many people with a serious conviction record a claim may not be possible. There are very punitive measures in place within the CICA scheme for those who have fallen on the wrong side of the law and yet have an entitlement to criminal compensation. However not all convictions are the same, some are less serious than others and the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (reformed and updated in 2012) provides some scope for certain convictions to be deemed “spent” and time served after a penalty period has elapsed.
It is strongly recommended that you seek advice on this issue before you make a claim to the CICA if you do in fact have a criminal record. Please read our dedicated page here on the subject. You only get one chance to claim – get advice before it is too late.
It is very common for victims particularly in relation to childhood abuse to keep what happened to themselves and many choose to come forward some time later as adults.
Even if the sexual assault or abuse took place years ago you may still be eligible to claim compensation either by way of a CICA application or perhaps a civil claim against an organisation you may hold accountable for your pain and suffering. There are many legal firms now willing to take on civil actions against public bodies, councils, social services, schools, churches and many other organisations who may have been negligent in allowing sexual abuse to continue. If you believe you have such a case – seek advice from a No win No fee solicitor. We can give you some guidance in this area.
BE AWARE: If your case involves historical abuse taking place in the 60’s and 70’s you may be caught by the 1979 Rule. Please read our dedicated page on this issue. We are hopeful that following a groundbreaking Court of Appeal case [July 18] this very unfair rule will be amended to allow for historical claims to be made.
Use our unique “Claim Time Limit Calculator” below to work out approximately when your deadline for claiming compensation might be. How long you have to claim will depend very much on your circumstances. It is strongly recommended that you seek specialist independent advice on your case. The calculator tool provides only a general overview.
OUT OF TIME FOR CLAIMING? – Get in touch – Many cases can be successfully appealed. Call us to discuss your case today 01423 593002 or complete our enquiry form
In recent years there has been a change in the public mindset when it comes to discussing sexual abuse or historic child abuse. What was once a taboo subject, no longer is. It remains a hugely difficult area not least for those who suffered the abuse, but changing perceptions have led to more openness and that is a very important step forward.
Victims of abuse are now quite rightly referred to as “survivors”. This term is one of respect underlining the fact that anyone who has suffered abuse in childhood …and lived through it, should not merely be referred to as a victim. Surviving abuse is in itself an enormous personal achievement, overcoming trauma that few can imagine let alone cope with.
As we have said, it is not easy making the decision to explore a claim of this kind but our specialist staff at the Criminal Claims Bureau aim to guide you through the process to achieve what we sincerely hope will be a very positive outcome. Your questions answered on our Abuse Claims FAQ page
Litigation claims against an organisation
This route is potentially open to those who were owed a duty of care by an organisation, business or other public body and where it can be shown that the body failed in its basic duty to protect you (or a loved one).
A good example of this type of litigation would be the group action being taken by the victims of Jimmy Savile against public bodies such as the BBC and Stoke Mandeville Hospital (one of a number of hospitals being sued). Schools and local authorities including social services also fall into this category.
Legal aid is available but the availability of this type of funding is much reduced. No win No fee agreements with specialist lawyers is also available.
Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA)
This body administers a government scheme that provides compensation (without litigation or court action) to innocent victims of crime.
This option is open to those who fit a very specific but quite simple criteria. It may apply to those suffering from abuse within the family or involving friends, acquaintances etc. You can also claim if the litigation route for applicable cases proves to be unsuccessful.