Criminal Injuries Compensation
Compensating victims of violent crime is not only desirable, but necessary as well. Physical and mental injury can damage the lives of Scotland’s blameless citizens.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority is another example of ‘nice idea, poor execution’ within the Scottish legal system. Caroline Kelly, a solicitor advocate at Thornton’s, has even questioned whether the scheme is even fit for purpose. In her recent Law Journal article, she criticises how ‘special expenses’ are being dealt with. For example, a rape victim can obviously incur extra costs in bringing up and looking after a child. Worryingly though, the current scheme does not compensate for costs, if the child is disabled. Aside from being unfair, this is outright discriminatory, since it serves no legitimate aim and is not proportionate.
Not only does the scheme potentially breach UK equality law, but also article 14 and Article 1 of the First Protocol (A1P1) to the European Convention of Human Rights, as a claim for criminal injuries compensation arguably constitutes ‘possession’. As such, victims of child abuse have recently been rejected compensation by the authorities based on the “same roof rule”. This rule essentially prohibits the claimant to receive compensation if the crime was committed before October 1979 and if the perpetrator lived at the same address. Whilst perpetrators should not benefit from any compensation, this rule poses serious problems for crimes which, by their very nature, are committed in the private sphere.
Moreover, it lacks any sympathy for the victim, whose pain and suffering is not only life-changing, but life-crushing. It is not just Kelly who is advocating for change. There is in fact increasing pressure on government to specifically address the system’s unfair approach to ‘special expenses’.
With regard to special expenses, it is true that ‘predictability of genetic disorders continues to challenge existing law’. Clearly, the law needs to have some degree of certainty and consistency. In this regard, the new Simple procedure in civil litigation is encouraging. Citizens affected by violent crimes need to be able to put faith in a system that is personal, simple and fair. In this regard, the new Simple procedure in civil litigation is encouraging.
This blog post was written by Daniel Stephen, LLB (Hons), currently studying the Diploma in Legal PracticeView all →