Released On 10th Oct 2019
How do I challenge my CICA Award?
The CICA Decision
If you have been the victim of a violent crime you may be entitled to compensation from the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority (known as the CICA). The amount of an award is rarely as high as a civil claim and often injury victims are not satisfied with the amount of compensation they are awarded by the CICA.
Sometimes the CICA will make no award at all.
If you are unhappy with the CICA’s award, you can challenge the outcome, provided you satisfy the time limits set out in the 2012 Scheme. These time limits are relatively short and if you are beyond the 56 days allowed to seek a review, contact us at Robsonshaw and we will advise you on a free, no obligation basis as to whether you can contest the decision.
Step 1 - Understand Your Award
The first thing to do is understand how your award is calculated. Under the current 2012 scheme, the CICA can make awards for one or more of the following:-
- mental or physical injury following a crime of violence;
- sexual or physical abuse;
- loss of earnings - where you have no or limited capacity to work as the direct result of a criminal injury;
- special expenses payments - these cover certain costs you may have incurred as a direct result of an incident. You can only ask the CICA to consider special expenses if your injuries mean you have been unable to work or have been incapacitated to a similar extent for more than 28 weeks;
- a fatality caused by a crime of violence including bereavement payments, payments for loss of parental services and financial dependency; and funeral payments.
For example you may have suffered a physical injury that kept you off work for six months. The loss of earnings is relatively easy to calculate. The CICA will consider evidence from your doctor about the severity of the injury, including evidence to show how long you were unable to work; and details of your lost earnings. Under the 2012 Scheme, loss of earnings are capped at the current rate of SSP, thus it matters not if you are in a high paid job, the maximum you can recover is SSP.
Often victims believe the CICA has underestimated the severity of their injuries and therefore awarded them less than they are really entitled to.
It is important to avoid a challenge if an award that cannot be changed.
At Robsonshaw, we can advise you if your CICA award was incorrect and whether the CICA’s decision can be re-considered.
Step 2 - Apply For A Review of Your Claim
The first step is to apply to the CICA for a review of your award.
You must do this within 56 days of receiving the original decision. Your review should set out any factual inaccuracies or reasons why you think the CICA has misunderstood your claim and which has led to a lower award.
The Review Application will be looked at by another CICA officer, who was not involved in your original claim. The new CICA officer will read your Application for Review. You will not have the opportunity to present your evidence in person.
The CICA will prepare a final decision and you will be notified by letter. Occasionally a review can lead to a less favourable award, or the original award may be unchanged.
At Robsonshaw we can assist you to prepare a written review.
Step 3 - Appealing to the First Tier Tribunal
If you are still unhappy with the award following a CICA review, or you disagree with the reasoning behind it, you can appeal.
An appeal is made to the First Tier Tribunal (Criminal Injuries Compensation). The Tribunal Service is not part of the CICA. It is independent and is responsible ensuring that CICA decisions are correct, fair and properly implement the law.
An appeal must be made within 90 days of receiving the final review decision letter from CICA.
The First Tier Tribunal can extend the time for appeals, but will only do so if there is a very good reason.
Robsonshaw’s specialist solicitors are here to help you prepare an appeal to the Tribunal. Expert legal advice is crucial at this stage, as you cannot appeal just because you are unhappy with the amount of your award. To succeed, your appeal must set out why you think the CICA has misunderstood the law on the facts of your case.
Often the CICA will disagree with your appeal and may present its own response. If so you will have a further month to submit any further documents and answer the points made by the CICA.
The Tribunal will look at your appeal and the response from the CICA. If the Tribunal considers that you do not have at least an arguable case it will dismiss your appeal on the papers. If the Tribunal considers that you have at least an arguable case it will invite you to a hearing before a Judge to explain your arguments.
You can claim reasonable travel expenses, but not money for time off work in attending your appeal hearing. At Robsonshaw we can assist you with the preparation of your appeal and we can represent you at an appeal hearing. We can act for you on a contingency fee arrangement which means that you do not have to worry about up-front costs. If your appeal succeeds, we will take a percentage of your winnings for the work done. If your appeal fails, you will not have to pay us for our time spent on your case. Generally if your appeal succeeds and we have obtained expert evidence to support you, the CICA will pay for the cost of this evidence in addition to your increased award.
Step 4 – Appeal to the Upper Tribunal
Nearly always the decision of the First Tier Tribunal Judge is legally correct and that is the end of the matter. However, occasionally the decision of the First Tier Tribunal Judge is legally flawed. If so, you can appeal to a higher tribunal, called the Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber), for judicial review of the First Tier Tribunal’s decision.
Before applying for a judicial review you must write to the tribunal with your reasons of the alleged error of law and advise why you think the decision was wrong. You must do this within 1 month of the date of the decision.
You have 3 months from the original decision to lodge your application for judicial review. The time limit is rarely extended.
Judicial review is a type of Court proceeding in which a senior Judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body such as the CICA. Judicial reviews are a challenge to the way in which a decision has been made, rather than the rights and wrongs of the conclusion reached.
Judicial review is not so concerned with the decision, but rather that the right procedures have been followed and the process is legal.
The Upper Tribunal will not substitute its own decision. If it considers the procedures of the CICA or First Tier Tribunal are legally incorrect, then it will send the case back to the CICA and ask it to make another decision, but this time in the legally correct way.
This could mean that although you succeed at judicial review, you end up with exactly the same decision as before, but now made in a compliance with correct procedures.
Robsonshaw is a specialist firm of solicitors dealing with personal injury and abuse claims. We can assist you with the preparation of your judicial review application and arrange representation for you at a judicial review hearing. For legal advice on a free, confidential, no obligation basis please contact us on 01392 345333 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org