22nd August 2018

Question:

My friend was recently assaulted and his nose was broken. He made an application for compensation and was told he couldn’t have any. I don’t understand this – I myself suffered a broken nose some years ago when assaulted and I did get compensation. My friend was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and like me he didn’t do anything to provoke anyone. I don’t understand why I got money and he didn’t.

Answer:

I think both you and your friend must have applied to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) for compensation. (Years ago this organisation used to be known as the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board so  it may be that it was called that when you made your own application and got compensated).

The CICA exists to compensate the blameless victim of violent crime. It was first established in the early 1960s. The CICA runs the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) and over time there have been various versions of the CICS dated for example 1996 and 2001 and 2008.

Often when the CICS is rewritten quite significant changes are made and usually these narrow down the circumstances in which people can get compensated.

In other words there are cuts.

Although the CICS pays out a lot of money each year – and can pay out as much as £500,000 on any one individual case – surprisingly these cuts can be made to it with very little debate; it is not necessary for the Government to pass an Act of Parliament for example to change the CICS. Instead it is possible for Government just to instruct civil servants to redraft the CICS to bring in large-scale changes and then simply announce those changes.

Which brings us to the broken nose issue. The most recent version of the CICS came into force in November of 2012. Like all the schemes going back to the 1990s it sets out a list of particular injuries for which compensation can be paid. Both before the 1990s and after that up until 2012 a broken nose was an injury for which compensation could be paid.

But without any debate about it this injury disappeared in 2012 from the list of compensatable injuries. Why? The thinking may well have been as follows: when someone is punched in the face a very common consequence of that is a broken nose so if you take that injury out of the CICS you can save a lot of money.

There is a lack of consistency about this because if your friend knows the identity of his attacker he COULD sue him personally for compensation in the County Court system as an alternative to the CICS.  Why should he be able to pursue a remedy there but not make an application to the CICS?

Many other once compensatable injuries were also removed from the scheme in 2012 as well. Again compensation for many of these injuries could be pursued in the County Court.

The Introduction to the CICS states that compensation “…is a recognition of public sympathy”. It is not at all clear who decided when or why that no such sympathy should be given anymore to someone who suffers a broken nose or certain other injuries caused by a criminal assault.

Ben Hoare Bell LLP has specialist personal injury solicitors who can advise you on issues surrounding the CICA and CICS. To speak to a solicitor please phone 0191 565 3112 or email advice@benhoarebell.co.uk.


Please note that this advice was correct at the time of writing. However there may have been changes in the law or procedure since that date. If you are in doubt you should obtain up to date legal advice.