Case Summary

R v Criminal Injuries Compensation Board ex parte Letts

Citation 1989  QBD  Unreported 
Decision Date 08/02/1989
Case Name R v Criminal Injuries Compensation Board ex parte Letts
Scheme Pre-tariff Schemes
Paragraph Number 4, 11
Keywords Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 1979 – Paragraphs 4(a), 11 – Eligibility – Crime of violence – Non-deliberate running down of applicant by car – Reckless driving – Wanton driving - Careless driving
Headnote Summary of decision: An application for judicial review of the decision of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board to refuse an award to a man who was run down by a car in an admittedly non-deliberate fashion was dismissed. The Board were not wrong to find that there was no reckless driving nor wanton driving. Facts: At 11 p.m. on 1 September 1982, the applicant, L, was knocked over by a car driven by H in the car park of a public house. L suffered a very bad break of his leg with some permanent injury. The evidence showed that some other people were pushing H’s car, trying to start it, with H in the driver’s seat. L was at the steps of the public house. He knew that attempts were being made to push-start a car. H was concentrating on those pushing the car rather than in his direction of travel. He ran over L’s leg after the car’s engine had suddenly started. L accepted that H did this carelessly rather than deliberately. H was uninsured. It was alleged that he had been drinking, but there was no first-hand evidence that he was affected by drink or that he would have been guilty of an offence if he had driven on the road. The Motor Insurers’ Bureau took the point that the accident did not happen on a road and that it was not, therefore, obliged to compensate L. L therefore applied to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (‘the Board’). The single member disallowed the application, noting: “The circumstances in which the applicant was run over by a car are far from clear. What is clear is that no crime of violence was committed. Paragraph 4(a) is not satisfied.” The full Board considered whether the incident might fall within the definition of “reckless driving” or “wanton” or “furious” driving” within section 35 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (‘the 1861 Act’) but also rejected the application, noting that “on the totality of the evidence we were not able to find that the car driver was acting recklessly…We do not consider this driving was wanton nor did it amount to wilful misconduct in all the circumstances here.” L sought judicial review, arguing that the Board had misdirected itself in the application of reckless driving and/or wanton driving and that the Board had failed to consider careless driving (an alternative verdict where reckless driving is charged) and should have concluded in favour of the applicant that, in the circumstances, this was a crime of violence allowing L to recover compensation. Held, dismissing the application: (1) The Board did all they could conceivably have been asked to do in applying the facts of this particular case to the definition of recklessness set out in R v Lawrence (1981) 1 All ER 982. There was no misdirection, no failure to pose the proper test, and no failure to apply the law to the facts as found. The decision the Board reached in relation to recklessness was clearly the correct one. (2) The Board had seen the definition of wanton driving within the 1861 Act and they knew what the applicant said that wanton meant. Again, there was no misdirection, no error of law and no failure by the Board to apply itself to the task which it had to perform. (3) The Court did not consider that it was necessary for the Board to apply its mind specifically to the issue of careless driving, particularly because L was arguing in favour of reckless rather than careless driving. If, however, the Board did fail to consider the possibility of careless driving, the Court was satisfied that it would have been impossible to fit the facts of the case into the definition of careless driving and to say that there was a crime of violence. (4) The court did not rule out the possibility of careless driving amounting to a crime of violence in an appropriate case. Parts of the scheme and other legislation referred to in judgment Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 1979, Paragraph 4, 11, Guide to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 1979, paragraph 4D Offences Against the Person Act 1861, section 35 Cases referred to in the judgment: R v Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, ex parte Clowes (1977) 1 WLR 1353 R v Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, ex parte Webb (1987) QB 74 [A.k.a ex p Warner] R v Lawrence (1981) 1 ALL ER 982 Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Constabulary v Shimmen (1987) 84 Cr.App.R. 7. Representation: Mr R Allen, instructed by Freeth Cartwright & Sketchley, Nottingham, for L. Mr N Pleming, instructed by the Treasury Solicitor, for the Board.
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