Case Summary


Citation 1997  ScotsSC  (unreported) 
Decision Date 17/01/1997
Scheme Pre-tariff Schemes
Paragraph Number 13
Keywords condition Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 1979 - Paragraph 13 - Procedure – Re-opening - New medical evidence – Chairman’s discretion - Serious change in medical
Headnote Summary of decision On an application for judicial review of the Chairman's decision not to re-open an application for compensation on the basis of updated medical evidence about the ongoing effect of past sexual abuse, the court decided that the Chairman's decision was not Wednesbury unreasonable. Facts JS had applied for compensation in 1987 due to her suffering sexual abuse from the age of 5 or 6 until 15, and being subjected to full sexual intercourse from aged 11 or 12. She had accepted an award of compensation of £10,000 in 1988. Thereafter she applied to re-open her application under paragraph 13 of the 1979 Scheme, which provided for the Board to have discretion to re-open a case where there has been "such a serious change in the applicant's medical condition that injustice would occur if the original assessment of compensation was allowed to stand". JS sought to rely on two reports which detailed her up-to-date psychological condition. The Chairman of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board ('the Board') rejected her request for a re-opening. JS petitioned for judicial review of that decision. Held, dismissing the application: (1) It was agreed that paragraph 13 had simply to be construed as it stood without further gloss on its meaning. (2) What did or did not constitute "serious change" for the purposes of paragraph 13, was very much a matter of degree. In those circumstances, it would be very difficult to satisfy the very stringent test of “Wednesbury unreasonableness” (3) The new evidence was open to criticism regarding a lack of first hand knowledge on the part of the authors, in particular concerning JS's condition in 1988. Further, the new reports did not disclose symptoms outwith what might have been anticipated at the time of the award in 1988. Also, from February 1995 onwards JS's condition was said to be greatly improved and it might be that her overall progress was better than was contemplated in 1988. (4) In all the circumstances, it could not be said that the Chairman's decision was unreasonable in a Wednesbury sense, indeed the court considered that his decision was correct. Scheme paragraphs and other legislation referred to: Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 1979, para. 13 Administration of Justice Act 1982, section 12 Cases referred to in judgment: R v Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, ex p. Brown 12 November 1987, unreported Representation: Mr Sutherland for JS. Miss Dunlop for the Board.
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