Case Summary


Citation 1992  C.O.D  379 
Decision Date 20/02/1992
Scheme Pre-tariff Schemes
Paragraph Number 4
Keywords Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 1979 - Paragraph 4 - Eligibility – Procedure - Three year time limit – Waiver of time limit - Waiver in exceptional cases – Adequacy of reasons
Headnote Summary of decision The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, in refusing to waive the three year time limit for bringing a claim for compensation, ought to have sought clarification as to why the applicant did not pursue her claim in the 14 month period between turning 21 and making her application. The failure to do so was a clear defect of reasoning and the decision of the Board would accordingly be quashed. Facts The applicant (‘A’) was the victim of alleged sexual offences committed against her by her stepfather in the two years up to Christmas 1984. In December 1989, aged 22, A applied for compensation to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (‘the Board’) and asked that the three year time limit for the making of a claim be waived. In her statements A claimed that while she was at school she had been able to put her experiences behind her but that at university she had time to reflect. She had not previously made a claim, she said, because she did not know that the scheme applied to her circumstances, she did not wish to face her stepfather in court and because she had been able to shut the assaults out of her mind. She was not told of the scheme by the solicitor she consulted aged 17, nor did the local authority who provided housing assistance at around the same time tell her of its existence. The result was that she did not know of the possibility of making a claim until 1988 when she consulted other solicitors. The Board found that there were only three possibilities as to why no application was made earlier, either: (a) A did not wish to make an application; (b) she was advised not to make an application; or (c) she was not advised that such an application should and could be made. The Board decided that the circumstances were not capable of being treated as exceptional and refused to waive the time limit. Held, allowing A’s application (1) There was a further manifest possibility not considered by the Board namely that the solicitor who A consulted when she was 17 years old saw no reason to tell her of the Scheme, and did not do so, nor did the local authority whom she consulted at around the same time. Accordingly until 1988 A did not know of the possibility of making a claim. This accounted for the passing of time during her minority and during the following three years. As for the final 14 months, the only fair thing to do if the Chairman of the Board had been minded to refuse the application on the ground of delay over this period only, would have been to ask the solicitor to account in fuller detail for the passing of those 14 months. (2) A’s application had not failed before the Board because she had not sought legal advice between her 18th birthday and October 1988, it had failed because the Board had looked at the whole period in its entirety and had felt driven to conclude that there were only three possible explanations for her not having made a claim before she did. This was a clear defect in the Board’s reasoning which rendered the decision flawed and accordingly the decision was quashed. Parts of scheme and other legislation referred to in judgment Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 1979, paragraph 4 Cases referred to in judgment Attorney-General v. Leveller Magazine Ltd [1979] A.C. 440; H v. Ministry of Defence [1991] 2 All ER 834; R v. Arundel Justices, ex p Westminster Press Ltd [1985] 1 WLR 798 Representation S Sedley Q.C and S Maidment (instructed by John Howell & Co) for A R Ter Haar (instructed by the Treasury Solicitor) for the respondent
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