Released On 10th Oct 2019
How do I appeal my CICA award?
Should you accept the CICA's first offer for compensation, and what's the appeals process?
Challenging the CICA decision
If you've 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 that the CICA awards you is rarely as high as a civil claim and injury victims often aren't satisfied with the amount of compensation they are awarded by the CICA.
Sometimes, the CICA will make no award at all.
CICA appeal time limits
If you're unhappy with the level of compensation that the CICA has awarded you, you can challenge the outcome, provided you satisfy the time limits set out in the 2012 Scheme (the latest version of the compensation scheme). These time limits are relatively short, just 56 days from the date of the original decision.
If you are beyond the 56 days, contact us at Robsonshaw and we will advise you on a free, no obligation basis whether you can contest the decision.
Step 1 - Understand how your CICA compensation is calculated
The first thing to do is understand how your CICA compensation award is calculated. Under the current 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.
Limits for loss of earnings
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 scheme, loss of earnings are capped at the current rate of SSP, so it makes no difference 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 to the CICA for a review of your claim
The next 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.
Robsonshaw can assist you to prepare a written CICA 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 for ensuring that CICA decisions are correct, fair and properly implement according to the law.
Time limits for making an appeal after a CICA review
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.
Why expert legal advice is crucial at the Tribunal stage
Expert legal advice is crucial at this stage, as you cannot submit an appeal to the Tribunal just because you're 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.
The CICA will often 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.
How we can help you appeal your CICA award - no win, no fee
Robsonshaw 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
The decision of the First-tier Tribunal Judge is nearly always 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 one month of the date of the decision.
You have 3 months from the original decision to lodge your application for judicial review. This time limit is rarely extended.
What is judicial review?
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 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.