Released On 1st Mar 2019
The End of the Same Roof Rule in CICA Claims
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority is a government funded body whose purpose is to compensate deserving victims of violent crime and sexual abuse.
The Same Roof Rule
Often the CICA is the only source of compensation for survivors if the abuser cannot be found or has been sent to prison for his offending and therefore has no income and probably no assets. There have been various CICA schemes since its inception in 1964 and many rule changes. However, until recently one rule that has survived the many schemes is the so called “same roof rule”. In 1964 it was felt appropriate that abusers of violence and sexual offences should not themselves indirectly benefit financially by living with victims who had received CICA awards. Therefore, the scheme specifically precluded survivors who lived with their abusers under the same roof from benefiting from a payment. Whereas the intentions are understandable, the draconian and inflexible nature of the rule meant that numerous deserving survivors have been unfairly excluded from a CICA payment. More recently the rule was slightly modified to include only those survivors who lived with their abusers before 1979. However, it is still the case that in claims involving historic sexual abuse, survivors who have been abused as children and were living with the abusers and are often unable to receive a CICA award.
Take the example of two children who are sexually abused by the same man. One of the children is the abuser’s daughter and the other is her friend and neighbour. The neighbour deservedly receives an award from the CICA as they are not part of the same family, but the daughter does not, simply because she lives under the same roof as her father. Another scenario we sometimes encounter is the instance of two sisters who are both abused by their father at home. The older sister is abused before 1979 and the younger sister is abused after 1979. Under the same roof rule the younger sister can receive compensation from the CICA, but the older sister does not.
Over the years dozens of survivors have suffered the indignity of forfeiting compensation. The Appeal Tribunals have been powerless to reverse the law and in every respect the situation has been very unsatisfactory.
However, a landmark Court of Appeal decision in the summer of 2018 laid the ground for changes. It ruled the same roof rule unlawful and asked the Government to change the CICA scheme. The Government decided not to appeal the judgment and confirmed that the rule would be removed as part of new legislation. In September 2018 the Government Victims Strategy highlighted the inequities of the same roof rule and proposed that it be scrapped. The Ministry of Justice lent its support to an abolition of the rule and on 28 February 2019 the Government decided to bring forward the legislation by presenting a Statutory Instrument to officially remove the pre-1979 same roof rule completely. Assuming the Statutory Instrument goes through parliament unopposed, new and past applicants refused an award because of the same roof rule can reapply for compensation. In short, the 'outdated' same roof rule will be abolished, 'so no child victim is unfairly denied access to compensation after the trauma they suffered many years ago, simply because they lived with their attacker'.
The only exception to the same roof rule remains those applicants who at the time of the abuse were adults living with the assailant as members of the same family and continue to do so.
What Should You Do?
If you have previously claimed and been rejected for an Award the CICA should now allow you to re-submit your CICA claim. If you originally submitted a claim under an old CICA scheme the CICA may assess your compensation according to the old scheme rules that are often much more generous than the latest 2012 CICA scheme.
If you have not claimed previously because you thought that as a result of the same roof rule you would not receive any compensation it is well worth now making a CICA claim. Your claim will be treated as an original claim and your award will be assessed under the current 2012 CICA scheme.
We advise that your claim is submitted or re-submitted as soon as possible.
The majority of the same roof rule claims will involve historic sexual assault or abuse. Many survivors will have mental health issues that may have adversely affected their lives and careers. Applicants may be entitled to claim loss of earnings and special expenses in addition to a tariff Award reflecting their mental health. Awards are likely to be significant. However, sexual abuse claims in which applicants have suffered mental health problems are often complex and legal advice from specialist lawyers is recommended.
Do not instruct Claims Management companies. They are unlikely to be experienced and will charge just as much as solicitors.
At Robson Shaw Solicitors we are very happy to give preliminary legal advice upon your possible claim. It is free and comes with no obligation to instruct us.
Robson Shaw is a niche firm of solicitors specialising in CICA claims. We are not a claims management company and you will only ever deal with experienced solicitors. If you wish to instruct Robson Shaw we will look after you from start to finish.
We offer a No Win No Fee Agreement and we will fund disbursements (such as medical reports), so you will have no financial concerns over the conduct of your claim.
For a free, no obligation consulation, please contact Robert Shaw on 01392 345 332, or email firstname.lastname@example.org