Criminal injuries compensation – whether injury caused by different assailants should be treated as a single claim – whether more than one descriptor can be applied to a single injury
The claimant applied for compensation to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) having been sexually and physically abused on different occasions during her childhood by three different men. Following a review CICA made an award of just over £8,000.00 reduced by 50 per cent, for the claimant’s unspent convictions. She appealed against that decision and the First-tier Tribunal (F-tT) ordered a report from a consultant psychiatrist, who attributed 100 per cent of the claimant’s mental health problems to the childhood abuse. The F-tT took the view that, in the absence of evidence of acceleration or exacerbation of a pre-existing condition, the Upper Tribunal’s decision in BD v First-tier Tribunal and CICA  UKUT 352 (AAC) required it to make a full tariff award in respect of what it regarded as three separate claims. It awarded compensation of some £40,000 in respect of two of the assailants and remitted the case involving the third assailant to CICA to make a separate determination. CICA applied for a judicial review, arguing that the F-tT had erred in making two tariff awards for the same injury, in making awards for both sexual assault and mental injury and in declining to make any determination in relation to the third assailant who was also alleged to have abused the claimant.
Held, allowing the appeal, that:
the tribunal’s reliance on BD v First-tier Tribunal and CICA was misplaced and the claimant should have been treated as having made a single claim, not separate claims against each of her assailants. Claims under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 1995 are made in respect of injuries, not the events leading to them and the use of a single tariff descriptor to describe injury resulting from multiple sex attacks was not unlawful: R v Secretary of State for the Home Department and CICA ex parte C (paragraphs 9 to 11);
a descriptor which was expressed in terms of the circumstances in which injury occurred can be applied as often as the terms of the descriptor are satisfied, but a descriptor expressed in terms of the nature or severity of an injury can be applied only once for any one injury and the tribunal therefore erred in applying the same mental health injury tariff descriptor twice over in respect of the same injury (paragraph 12);
note 5 of the 2001 Scheme precluded an award for both a sexual offence and for mental injury in all cases, irrespective of who was responsible for the mental injury. It was not necessary for the judge to reach a decision on whether the tribunal was precluded from applying the same mental health injury descriptor twice over (paragraphs 13 to 14);
there was nothing in the evidence before the tribunal to justify a distinction between the positions of the three assailants and therefore the tribunal erred in remitting the case to CICA to make a separate determination in respect of injury caused by the third assailant (paragraph 15).
The judge set aside the decision of the F-tT and remitted the appeal to a differently constituted tribunal to be re-decided in accordance with his directions.