Case Summary


Citation 1998  QBD  Unreported 
Decision Date 11/05/1999
Scheme Pre-tariff Schemes
Paragraph Number 6
Keywords Criminal Injury Compensation Scheme 1990 – Paragraph 6(c) - Eligibility – Compensation - Character - Convictions – Reformed character – Board’s discretion
Headnote Summary of decision P was assaulted and applied for compensation to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, who made a reduced award because of P’s previous convictions, notwithstanding his more recently reformed character. The court would not interfere with the Board's decision to reduce the award or their assessment of general damages. The Board’s decision was not outwith the range of decisions it could make. Facts On 12 August 1995, The Applicant (‘P’) was assaulted in a pub when he tried to retrieve a torch from his assailant on behalf of someone else. P suffered facial fractures. The single member of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (‘The Board’) decided that, having regard to the Applicant’s previous convictions, there should be no award. On appeal from that decision, the full Board awarded £4,000.00 general damages and £2,000.00 for loss of earnings, but reduced the sums by two thirds in the light of P’s previous convictions, being various driving offences including driving whilst disqualified and two offences of driving with excess alcohol. P’s last offence was some three years previously. The Board noted that there was powerful evidence to show that P’s character had improved since the offences. P applied for judicial review arguing that the Board had made an unreasonable reduction in light of the type and age of convictions. P argued that the Board could not have reasonably concluded that all of the offences were very serious when compared with offences described at paragraph 38 of the Guide to the Scheme. P further argued that the sums awarded in respect of damages were unreasonably low. Held, dismissing the application (1) It was for the Board to evaluate whether it was appropriate to reduce or withhold an award in the light of previous convictions. ‘Such a value judgment could only be impugned if the decision was outwith the range of decisions the board could make in that exercise of evaluation’: R v Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, ex parte Thompstone [1984] 1 WLR 1234 applied. (2) Whilst true that P’s offences did not fall into the categories listed in paragraph 38 of the Guide, the Board were entitled to conclude that at least the two convictions of driving with excess alcohol were serious. Further the Board did take the positive side of P’s character fully into account. It could not be said that the Board could not reasonably have reached the conclusion that it did. (3) The jurisdiction of the court on judicial review was not analogous with that of the Court of Appeal when considering awards of general damages by a court of first instance.. The court could only satisfy itself as to whether the decision-maker has acted within the bounds of his discretion. The Board saw and heard P and read the medical reports. Whilst the judge suspected that the award was too low, he was unable to say that it was not a decision which the Board could reasonably have reached. Parts of the scheme and other legislation referred to in the judgment Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 1990, paragraph 6(c) Guide to the 1990 Scheme, paragraph 38 Cases referred to in the judgment R v Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, ex parte Thompstone [1984] 1 WLR 1234 R v Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, ex parte Moore [1999] 2 ALL ER 90 R v Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, ex parte Cook [1996] 2 ALL ER 144 R v Secretary of State for the Home Department, ex parte Brind & others [1991] 1 AC 696 Representation Mr D T Eccles, instructed by Thomas Saul & Co, Whitefield, for P. Mr R Singh (Mr J Moffatt for judgment), instructed by the Treasury Solicitor, for the Board.
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