Case Summary


Citation 1997  QBD  (unreported) 
Decision Date 24/04/1997
Scheme Pre-tariff Schemes
Paragraph Number 4
Keywords Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 1990 – Paragraph 4 - Eligibility - Procedure –- Sexual abuse of adult - Oral hearing - Fitness to give evidence – Procedural fairness – Natural Justice – Fair trial - Delay in reporting – Applicant deliberately witholding information
Headnote Summary of decision The applicant was refused compensation for alleged sexual abuse by a former partner on the basis that the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board were not satisfied that she was the victim of a crime of violence, that she had delayed in reporting the matter to the police and had deliberately withheld information from the police and the Board. Her application for judicial review had been accepted by Turner J on the basis that there had been a breach of the rules of natural justice. On appeal by the Board, the Court of Appeal found that the Board were entitled to reach that conclusion on the evidence they heard and that the applicant had failed to show that the hearing before the Board was procedurally unfair. Facts The Applicant ‘(M’) attended her GP and alleged that she had been raped and buggered by her partner (‘K’) whilst co-habiting with him in about November 1990. Following this, upon her GP’s advice she made a complaint to the police. A police investigation was undertaken but no charges were laid, K alleged that all intercourse had been consensual. There was no corroborative medical evidence. In April 1991 the Applicant made a further complaint to the police of indecent assault. She did not inform them that the couple had resumed cohabitation since her previous complaint for a period of 8 weeks. In May 1991 she made an application for compensation. M made an application to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (‘The Board’), which was refused on paper on the basis that, in the absence of any corroborative medical evidence and any prosecution, the Board was not satisfied M was the victim of a crime of violence (1990 scheme, paragraph 4(a)). M applied for an oral hearing. At the date of the oral hearing in March 1995 she had been a psychiatric in-patient. She had been released for the day to attend the hearing, accompanied by a social worker and her mother. She gave some evidence, as did her social worker and mother. Her demeanour was weepy and distressed. Her application for compensation was refused. M sought judicial review of the Board’s decision on the basis that the Applicant had not given evidence herself (a matter disputed by the Board) and had not been in a fit state to give evidence; Turner J quashed the decision and ordered a re-hearing before a differently constituted panel. He considered that there had been a ‘failure of communication’ which had ‘created the impression that the applicant did not receive a fair hearing.’ The Board appealed against Turner J’s decision. Held, allowing the Board’s appeal (1) The Board were fully entitled to conclude that (i) they were not satisfied that a crime of violence had been committed because they did not believe M’s evidence, (ii) that they were not satisfied that there was sufficient justification in delay in reporting the matter and that she had deliberately concealed from the police that she had returned to live with K, and (iii) that she had deliberately withheld that information from the Board. (2) The Board were entitled to conclude from the fact that the hospital allowed M to attend the hearing that the medical authorities considered her fit to do so. Those authorities must have appreciated that she might be required or wish to give evidence. (Medical evidence available at the time of the judicial review hearing demonstrated that she had been released from hospital for the known purpose of attending the hearing). (3) The Board were entitled to conclude that, if the social worker who accompanied M had doubts about her ability to give evidence, she would have said so and the matter of adjournment would have been considered. (4) The fact that M appeared weepy and distressed is not a reason for concluding that she was not capable of giving evidence. There was no evidence that she was not fit to give evidence. (5) It is not sufficient that M conceived the idea she had not been given a fair hearing. It must be shown there is some procedural step which fairness required the Board to take and that they failed to take. Parts of scheme and other legislation referred to in judgment 1990 scheme, paragraph 4(a), 6 & 8 Mr Michael Kent QC instructed by the Treasury Solicitor for the Appellant Mr Nicholas Blake QC and Mr Leslie Thomas instructed by Messrs Emsleys for the Respondent
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