Victims of violent crime still waiting for their damages
Victims of violent crime who make applications to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority often have to wait a disproportionate amount of time to receive the damages they deserve.
Fresh figures disclosed by the CICA show that they currently have just under 50,000 cases in progress. Worryingly, 2% of these cases were commenced between 5 and 7 years ago. Others have been outstanding for over 10 years.
There is no doubt that reaching a decision on how much compensation an individual should receive is not an easy process, not least when the award is funded by the government. Increasingly the decision making process is becoming more protracted. Victims are being subjected to delays which only serve to compound their difficulties and often there is no explanation for the delay.
Working on behalf of victims of child abuse we often encounter the CICA rejecting claims made to them by our clients. Applications to the CICA should be made within 2 years of the crime. The CICA does have discretion to waive this time limit. Unfortunately, more often than not the CICA do not exercise this discretion.
We have a 100% track record in appealing their decision to not exercise their discretion. Notwithstanding our track record the CICA continues to show no sign of changing their approach to applications made by victims of historic child abuse.
In the event that the CICA do come to a wrong decision either in disallowing an application or in the amount of compensation they wish to award it is open to an individual to request the CICA review their decision and ultimately appeal to the Tribunal.
Regrettably, even once the CICA have come to a correct decision there is a further delay in payment of the compensation. The newly released figures show that only 55% of cases which were resolved last year were paid compensation in the same year.
In 2008 a report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee stated that the CICA were handled inefficiently and were taking longer to resolve. It seems that five years later the CICA have yet to move forward.