When making an application to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority strict eligibility criteria apply. This includes an important two year time limit to submit an application for compensation.
This might sound striaghtforward enough, but complications can arise in practice, especially when the victim feels too traumatised to report the matter to the police or pursue a compensation claim.
Our client, EC, was a young mother in her early 20s living alone. A man from her community entered her home many years ago and raped her while she was caring for her young baby. He continued living in her community and our client felt unable to report what had happened for fear of the repercussions from the man who had attacked her and his associates.
Sadly, our client was not the only woman to have suffered a serious sexual assault at the hands of this man. Some 18 years after the assault, she finally felt able to disclose what had happened to the Police. this resulted in the conviction of her attacker. He is now serving a custodial sentence.
Following his conviction, EP asked whether she could pursue a claim for compensation even though she was technically out of time.
We agreed to take the case on and to fund it on a No Win, No Fee basis.
An application was duly submitted to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). However, despite the attacker's recent criminal conviction, the CICA rejected our client’s compensation claim on the basis it was made out of time. We rejected this response from the CICA.
Rachel Thain, who is a specialist abuse lawyer at Slee Blackwell Solicitors, commented:
“Our client was extremely disappointed by the decision of the CICA to reject her application for compensation. I felt a strong sense of injustice at the prospect of our client being refused compensation in such circumstances. I therefore advised that we should seek a review of this decision.
I obtained witness statements and medical evidence in support of the application for review. This was submitted to the CICA along with legal submissions on the legal basis for arguing that exceptional circumstances applied in EC's case. We asserted that the time limit should therefore be extended.
I'm delighted to say that the CICA accepted our submissions and agreed to make an award of compensation to our client."
The Authority has received a great deal of criticism in recent months for their rejection of abuse claims on the basis that children consented to their abuse. EC's case highlighted yet another flaw in the scheme in relation to the rules in respect of time limits, which often leads to significant injustices for those who have suffered sexual assault or abuse.
Our client was fortunate. She contacted our specialist abuse team who have extensive experience in this specialised field and were able to bring her application to a successful conclusion. But where people deal with the CICA themselves or appoint inexperienced representatives the outcome is often unsatisfactory.
If you have suffered sexual assault or abuse (even if it took place many years ago) then dont take any chances, contact our abuse lawyers for a free, no obligation chat on Freephone 0800 037 8020 or send us an email.