A recent landmark decision from the Court of Appeal has overturned a rule preventing sexual abuse victims who lived in the same home as their attacker prior to 1979 from being able to pursue a claim under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) scheme.
The Claimant, known as JT, was abused by her stepfather between the ages of 4 and 17, but was denied compensation through the CICA because of the 'same roof' rule. This rule, intended to ensure perpetrators would not benefit from compensation paid to the victims they lived with, was changed in 1979 to allow child victims of domestic crime to claim compensation but it was not applied retrospectively. This meant that women like JT, who suffered sexual abuse before 1979, from someone living under the same roof were left without any avenue to obtain damages.
Although further changes were made in 2012, the 'same roof' rule remained intact - due to fears that abolishing it would open up the 'floodgates' to a large rise in the number of claims. This has now been ruled incompatible with human rights law.
A recent BBC report claimed 180 CICA applications for compensation have been refused due to the same-roof rule, highlighting a significant need for reform of the law.
As a result of the decision, the government has announced that the 'same-roof' rule will be abolished, and the Ministry of Justice will consider reforming other controversial rules such as time limits and restrictions on claims for those with criminal records, to ensure compatibility with human rights laws.
Commenting on the news, Barry Grogan, Fosters Solicitor leading up its abuse claims team, said "It is a step in the right direction. A victim should not be deprived of damages merely because they lived under the same roof as their abuser prior to 1979. I am pleased that victims previously let down by the scheme will be able to obtain the damages they deserve".
If you have been the victim of a violent or sexual crime which has caused you injury and you would like to pursue a claim, call us on 0800 7318539 or email us.