Case Summary


Citation 1999  EWCA  Civ  1067
Decision Date 23/04/1999
Scheme Pre-tariff Schemes
Paragraph Number 6, 12, 22, 25
Keywords Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 1990 - Paragraphs 6(c), 12, 22, 25 - Eligibility -Procedure – Conduct and Character – Criminal convictions - Further convictions after eligibility decision but before final award - Written reasons
Headnote Summary of decision The Court of Appeal approved the practice of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board of only providing written reasons as they saw fit or where a specific request was made by the applicant. In the present case there was no criticism by the applicant of the reasons themselves simply that they were not proper reasons as they had not been delivered in writing. It was held that the oral reasons given were sufficient and that written reasons were not required. It was also confirmed that the Board could properly have regard to convictions subsequent to the date of the injury up until the time of the final award. Facts The applicant (‘M’) made an application for compensation following an assault at work which was refused by a single member of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (‘the Board’) as a consequence of his previous convictions, under paragraph 6(c) of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 1990 (‘the 1990 Scheme’). M then requested an oral hearing before the Board. At the hearing the Board held that M was entitled to an award but that it would be reduced by 25%, under paragraph 6(c) of the 1990 Scheme, as a consequence of M’s previous convictions. An interim payment was made and the case was adjourned for a single member to consider quantum. After the full Board hearing but before any assessment of compensation by the single member M was convicted of further criminal offences. The matter was, as a consequence of these developments, re-listed before a two-member panel rather than before a single Board member. At that hearing, the issue of M’s eligibility to receive any award was reconsidered in light of the new convictions and his application was refused altogether. Diana Cotton QC chaired the Board and gave the Board’s decision and the reasons behind it. Some time later M’s solicitor’s contacted the Board and asked for their reasons. The request was apparently refused however Miss Cotton was clearly not consulted as, upon being informed of the judicial review application, she swore an affidavit setting out the Board’s reasons, based on her note of the hearing. Before the Court of Appeal, his application for judicial review having been refused by Sedley J., M pursued two arguments: (1) that there was no route in the rules whereby the single Board member could remit the matter back to the main Board, accordingly under the rules of the Scheme the full Board had no power to reconsider M’s application in light of the recent conviction; and (2) that it offended common law that the Board’s reasons were not given, or at least recorded, in writing. Held, (1) It was absolutely plain that the Board had not made a final decision in this case. The authority of R v. CICB ex parte Thomas [1995] P.I.Q.R. 99 made it clear that the Board could properly have regard to convictions subsequent to the date of the injury up until the final award. (2) The new conviction raised again the question of the applicant’s eligibility. That question was beyond the remit of the single member; she had no jurisdiction to entertain it. Therefore she properly felt she could not or should not decide it and it was open to her to refer it back under paragraph 22 of the Scheme. (3) As a matter of common law the Board should give reasons when they refuse or reduce an award. In the present case the award was both refused and reduced and Miss Cotton gave her reasons. She gave her reasons orally as is the way in the UK courts. Two people at the hearing had a duty to make a note of those reasons: counsel for the appellant and the Board’s advocate. (4) M made no criticism that the reasons given by Miss Cotton were inadequate. All that was criticised on his behalf was that the judgment was not given in writing. The Board members who took this decision did everything right and nothing wrong. There could be no question of quashing the reasons - recorded by counsel and by the Board’s advocate and, most accurately of all, by the Judge in her own note- as not being proper reasons because they were not delivered in writing. The Board’s oral reasons were sufficient and written reasons were not required, although in an appropriate case the Board should subsequently be prepared to provide the applicant or his legal advisors with the reasons for the decision in writing. The current practice of the Board to furnish reasons in writing when a request for them was made by the applicant was acceptable. Parts of scheme and other legislation referred to in judgment Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 1990, paragraphs 6(c), 12, 22, 25 Cases referred to in judgment R v. CICB ex parte Thomas [1995] P.I.Q.R 99 Representation Mr Rabinder Singh (instructed by Messrs Bindman & Partners) for M. Mr Hugo Keith (instructed by the Treasury Solicitor) for the respondent.
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