July 13, 2012

Potential injustice to injury victims – Mark Hambleton discusses

The next couple of weeks will see the House of Lords debating proposals put forward by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to amend the CICS (Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme).

CICS is administered by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, which is a government body responsible for awarding damages to innocent victims of violent crimes.

As things stand the CICA can make awards ranging from £1,000 to £500,000. The MOJ proposals recommend scrapping awards of less than £2,500 and reducing awards fro injuries that currently qualify for sums between £2,500 - £11,000 by approximately £1,000 each.

Mike Hambleton, associate at Withy King’s nationally renowned Personal Injury team, comments: “If the changes go ahead, some victims of violent crime might be left without compensation entirely. For example, someone who has suffered a fractured nose and requires surgery as a result, currently qualifies for compensation in the region of £1,500 to £2,000. Under the new rules, an award for such an injury would no longer be available at all. It seems unjust that a victim of an assault who suffers such an injury would be denied access to damages if the changes go through”.

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) is campaigning against the proposed changes to the CICS. Deborah Evans, APIL Chief Executive, says: “The decision [to change the CICS] goes against the view held for decades by successive Governments that victims of violent crimes deserve more than just an apology”.

Mark, who serves as secretary of APIL South West Group, echoes Deborah’s concerns: “My view is that there is a real risk that a number of deserving applicants will be left out of pocket and feeling a sense of injustice if the MOJ’s proposals are accepted. Often the victims of violent crime experience financial losses for which they may not be compensated and do not see the offender prosecuted.

“If access to financial compensation for injuries worth less than £2,500 (not insignificant injuries) is no longer available then injured victims may be left feeling that society has not properly recognised the injustice they have experienced”.

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