Case Summary


Citation 1999  ECHR   41903/98 
Decision Date 08/07/1999
Scheme 1996 Scheme
Paragraph Number 13(b), 13(d)
Keywords Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 1996 – Paragraph 13(b) & (d) – Eligibility – - Cooperation with police - Delay in reporting to police – Discretion – Guide to Scheme – Departing from guidance without giving reason
Headnote Summary of decision The Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel found that the Applicant had informed the police of an assault promptly but had then failed to co-operate by not informing them that his injuries were more serious than he first thought and refused an award under paragraph 13(b) of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 1996. S did not contact the police for about 4 weeks after giving the initial information, during which time he had taken legal advice. The court quashed the decision of the Panel for failing to give reasons why a reduced award (rather than no award) would not be appropriate in the face of the indication given in the Guide to the Scheme. The case was remitted to be re-considered. Facts On 12 April 1996, the Applicant (‘S’) was assaulted by being beaten with a scaffolding pole to his arm and shoulder when he was innocently caught up in a dispute involving others, one of whom was bleeding from the mouth. He gave his name and address to the police, who attended the scene, but made no substantive complaint nor did he ask the police to pursue those who injured him. There was no dispute that he told the police that he had been assaulted. At that time his arm was simply numb. S later discovered his arm to be fractured. S attended hospital, was admitted and underwent surgery. He saw his solicitor on 19 April and then made a full statement to the police on 8 May. The police made enquiries but no one was prosecuted. S applied for compensation on 8 September 1996. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (‘The Authority’) refused any award pursuant to paragraphs 13(b) (failure to cooperate with police) and (d) (conduct of applicant) of the Scheme. The decision was affirmed on review, but under 13(b) not 13(d). S appealed to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel (‘The Panel’), who dismissed his appeal. They held that it would be reasonable not to have informed the police for about a week, whilst S was in severe pain, but thereafter the lack of reporting was a lack of co-operation. They also held that if it had not been for the prospect of compensation then S would not have complained to the police about the fractured arm at all. S applied for judicial review of the Panel’s decision. The main argument rehearsed at the judicial review hearing was that raised by Moses J at the leave stage: That the guidance notes at least implied that, on the facts, a reduction of the award would be appropriate rather than a complete withholding. Held, quashing the decision of the Panel and remitting the case for reconsideration in full before a fresh Panel (1) The notes to paragraph 13(b) of the Scheme, in particular paragraph 8.12, showed the Authority directing themselves and telling the world that an initial co-operation, with a subsequent failure to co-operate and then a change of mind into co-operation, there would not be a withholding of an award but a reduction. The facts found by the Panel fell within paragraph 8.12 (2) If the Authority promulgate guidance and say that they are going to deal with the matter in a particular fashion, then they should do so unless there are very good reasons not to. The Panel did not do so in this case. (3) The Panel acted irrationally to think only in terms of withholding. They should have thought in terms of reducing, rather than withholding an award. The decision was therefore flawed. (4) S was awarded only 25% of his costs as the majority of preparatory work related to other arguments, not aired in the judgment. Parts of the scheme and other legislation referred to in judgment Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 1996, paragraph 13(a)(b) and (d) Guide to the 1996 Scheme (of 1 April 1996) paragraphs 8.1, 8.2, 8.5, 8.6, 8.7, 8.8, 8.10, 8.12 Cases referred to in the judgment R v Criminal Injuries Compensation Board ex parte Rene Florence Cook (1996) 1 WLR 1037 CA R. v Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, Ex parte Gambles [1994] P.I.Q.R. P314 Associated Provincial Picture Houses Ltd. v Wednesbury Corporation [1948] 1 K.B. 223; [1947] 2 All E.R. 680, C.A. Council of Civil Service Unions v Minister for the Civil Service [1985] 1 AC 374 HL Representation Mr D Watson, instructed by Messrs Stuart J Mander & Co, Walsall, for S. Miss A Foster, instructed by the Treasury Solicitor, for the Authority.
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