When a CICA application is submitted, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority must decide:
- whether the applicant is eligible for compensation under the Scheme, and;
- what amount of compensation should be paid to them if they are.
The management of the scheme by the Authority often gives rise to disputes arising, particularly regarding the valuation of claims and interpretation of the CICA rules.
If an applicant disagrees with the CICA's decision an appeal can be considered.
Appeals can often result in final awards that are many times greater than earlier offers made by the CICA. It is therefore always worth considering an appeal where it is felt that the Authority has acted unfairly in determining an application.
A panel of three independent members will hear an appeal. CICA appeal hearings are less formal than Court hearings, with written statements from the applicant and any witnesses usually being disclosed in advance.
For an appeal to stand the best chance of success the evidence must be carefully gathered; particularly evidence from any experts relied upon.
Appeals can arise from disputes on a broad range of issues.
Sometimes offers are made by the CICA when only very limited medical evidence is available. This can lead to significant under-settlement and there is often benefit to be gained by obtaining further expert evidence for presentation to the CICA.
Disputes can arise from the fact that the amount of compensation paid by the CICA can be reduced to take account of an applicant's other sources of income. The interpretation of these rules can be highly controversial.
The CICA will consider any other monetary payments that may have been made to the applicant in respect of their injury. This would include, for example, a successful civil claim for damages or a compensation order in criminal proceedings. State benefits can also be particularly significant in this respect.
Generally road traffic accidents are excluded from the CICA scheme. Anyone injured on the road is encouraged to bring a civil claim or make a claim under the Motor Insurers Bureau. The CICA will only entertain a claim under their scheme where the vehicle was used with actual intent to cause injury. Nevertheless grey areas can arise, giving rise to disputes and appeals.
The CICA can also withhold or reduce an award where the applicant has unspent convictions. Indeed their discretion extends to making judgements about the applicant’s character. Both provisions frequently lead to disputes breaking out.
A particular problem we encounter on a regular basis is where an applicant suffers psychiatric injury that changes their personality and results in them committing a criminal offence. This is especially common in abuse cases. Is it appropriate for the CICA to reduce the award where the offence only arose as consequence of the abuse suffered by the victim? Surely it is a symptom of the violence they have suffered and not a reflection of the applicant’s character that would justify their award being reduced.
In these instances medical evidence can play a vital role as does the applicant’s earlier character.
A CICA appeal is not justified in all cases, but we are always happy to review CICA offers and to take cases forward to appeal where the offer appears unjust on the facts and the evidence available.
For further details about making a CICA appeal call our free CICA Helpline on 0808 037 8020 or email us.
We extend our thanks to barrister Christian Taylor of Exchange Chambers who’s more detailed article on this topic has been of great assistance in preparing this item.