Sex abuse victims have chance to recover 50-year-old compensation

Judge's gavel

Victims of sex abuse now have the chance to recover compensation that was originally refused 50 years ago, thanks to a landmark legal ruling.

It is thought thousands of abuse survivors in the 1960s and 70s were refused compensation because they lived with their abuser.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) claimed the clause – known as the ‘same roof rule’ – prevented abusers from seizing settlements for themselves.

However, in London last month, three Court of Appeal judges unanimously agreed this breached victims’ human rights.

Campaigners have now called for an overhaul of CICA guidelines so survivors can finally access justice.

Kim Leslie, Partner and specialist abuse lawyer at Digby Brown, said: “This judgement on the same roof rule will give hope to victims who for decades have felt let down by a system designed to help them.

“The ruling occurred in England but it simply has to have an impact in Scotland because the CICA is a UK-wide body so it’s inconceivable that different rules would apply to different parts of the UK – it’s headquarters are even in Glasgow.

“The CICA now needs to outline how it will help previously rejected victims and how it intends to deal with applications in the future.”

The ruling emerged after a female victim known as JT fought to overturn a ‘same roof’ refusal at the Court of Appeal.

Between 1968 and 1979, she was abused by her step-father in the family home from the age of five until she was 17. The step-father was finally convicted and jailed for 14 years in November 2012.

One month later JT applied to CICA for compensation but the government body refused the claim under its same roof policy.

At the Court of Appeal, CICA cited paragraph 19 of its 2012 scheme which states: “An award will not be made in respect of a criminal injury sustained before 1 October 1979 if, at the time of the incident giving rise to that injury, the applicant and the assailant were living together as members of the same family.”

However, Lord Justice Leggatt said the clause breached the Human Rights Act 1998 and described the same roof rule as “arbitrary and unfair”.

The judge said: “It is all the more unfair when the reason for the difference in treatment – that JT was living as a member of the same family as her abuser, whereas (the other victim) was not – is something over which JT had no control and is a feature of her situation which most people would surely regard as making her predicament and suffering even worse.”

Both Lady Justice Sharp and Sir Terence Etherton, who also sat on the bench, agreed with Lord Leggatt’s ruling which also made an order for JT’s compensation claim to be reopened at a special tribunal.

Same roof refusals by CICA apply to sexual abuse carried out between 1964 and 1979 so anyone denied compensation during this time now has the chance to appeal and reopen their claim for compensation.

This story was reported by The National Scots sex abuse victims need answers on claims, solicitor says