Case Summary


Citation 1996  QBD  (unreported) 
Decision Date 04/03/1996
Scheme Pre-tariff Schemes
Paragraph Number 6
Keywords Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 1990 – Paragraph 6(a) – Eligibility – Procedure - Delay in reporting to police – Construction and purpose of paragraph 6(a)- Disclosure of police evidence to Applicant
Headnote Summary of decision The applicant was refused compensation under paragraph 6(a) of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme for unreasonable delay in reporting an assault to the police. The Court upheld the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board’s decision and rejected the argument that the sole purpose of paragraph 6(a) is to ensure that all reasonable steps are taken without delay to bring the offender to justice. Facts The Applicant (‘R’) accompanied by her young daughter was mugged and assaulted in the street in June 1992. She attended hospital that day on account of her injuries and was discharged later that day, but did not report the matter to the police until 3 days later (on her account). She made an application to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (‘the Board’), which was refused on paper on the basis that she had unreasonably delayed in reporting the incident to the police (paragraph 6(a) of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 1990 (‘The Scheme’)). R applied for an oral hearing, at which the Board confirmed the original decision, contending that she had not in fact reported the matter to the police until 4 days post assault. The evidence upon which this contention was made had not been disclosed to the R prior to or at the hearing. R sought permission to challenge the Board’s decision on the grounds that (i) it was based upon a rigid construction and application of paragraph 6(a) of the Scheme and (ii) the Board took into account material of which R had no knowledge. Held, refusing permission (1) The Court rejected the submission by R that the proper purpose of paragraph 6(a) is to ensure all reasonable steps are taken without delay to bring the offender to justice and not to enable the police to verify whether the complaint is genuine or not. “In my judgment one cannot break up the purpose of paragraph 6(a) in this way. The very process of prompt reporting in order that offenders can be brought to justice has a variety of knock on effects. One is that if the offender can be found then the veracity of the complaint is thereby enhanced, and so is the Board’s task in believing the complainant. Another is that is the alleged offender is found but it is established that no charge is appropriate then the claimant’s veracity is probably irreparably damaged. A further purpose is that at least what can be done will be done to see if the complaint is genuine..” Paragraph 6(a) carries with it important implications for the verification or falsification of the complaint made to the Board. (2) The Board were entitled to say that the late reporting caused (i) the inability to make a contemporaneous investigation and (ii) the inability of the Board to verify the complaint that was being made. (3) It is plain on the face of the Board’s written reasons that they had before them factual matters which were not previously known to R. Obiter Sedley LJ said “..this is information which at that point comes into the possession of the Board and which cannot and should not be selectively used in such a way. It would then be for consideration by this court whether there was any proper shield of confidentiality…” However, none of the withheld matter appeared to be capable of affecting the real issue, namely the proper application of paragraph 6(a) of the Scheme. (4) On the basis of the reasons now known but not known to R at the time, the Board cannot be said to have departed from the Scheme in reaching their conclusions. Parts of scheme and other legislation referred to in judgment 1990 Scheme, paragraphs 6(a) & 25 Representation Miss J Belson instructed by Moss, Beachley & Mullen for the Applicant Miss A Robinson instructed by the Treasury Solicitor for the Respondent
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