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CICA "same-roof" rule due for abolition.

View profile for Kim Daniells
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Those who have suffered injury as a result of violent crime may find they have no alternative other than to seek compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.  Awards made by the CICA are assessed way of a tariff.  They are generally much lower than awards of compensation for equivalent injuries made by a Civil Court.  This reflects the fact that the CICA is, in effect, dispensing taxpayers money. The challenges that applicants have faced when dealing with the CICA scheme are, however, not restricted to the level of compensation awarded.


One of the significant inequities of previous CICA schemes was the CICA’s "same-roof" rule. This prevented applicants from recovering an award if they lived in the same home as their assailant.


This rule was part of a scheme introduced in 1964 and applied to incidents which happened before 1979.  The purpose behind the rule was, ostensibly, reasonable – it was intended to ensure perpetrators would not benefit from compensation paid to victims that they lived with.


Sadly, the implementation of the rule led to many injustices.  Victims of physical and sexual abuse found that they were not eligible for compensation simply because they lived with their attacker. Those who were particularly vulnerable could find themselves unable to leave home and without access to the compensation that might assist them in securing help or starting to build a new life.


The current CICA scheme still has, within its structure, restrictions which aim to prevent perpetrators from benefiting from claims.  Awards can still be refused if at the time of the incident, victims were adults living with the assailant as members of the same family and they continue to live together or are likely to do so again. The current scheme is a significant improvement on previous arrangements but it has not proved accessible to all victims. Those who fell within the scope of the "same-roof" rule have been unable to secure awards, or resubmit their applications under newer schemes.


After many years of criticism, concern, and campaigning, the Ministry of Justice has now laid down a statutory instrument to abolish the "same-roof" rule.  Assuming the statutory instrument goes through Parliament without opposition, new and past applicants will be able to apply for compensation.  Crucially this will extend to those who have had awards refused in the past.


The legislative change follows a Court of Appeal finding in July 2018 that a Claimant had been unfairly denied an award after she was abused by her stepfather.


The CNCI team welcome the proposed changes.  The abolition of the rule will assist many applicants who have suffered terrible abuse and assaults at the hands of family members. Victims of violence and abuse in the domestic setting are often the most vulnerable and the most in need of support from society.  The "same-roof" rule has added insult to injury for these applicants and the abolition of this restriction is long overdue.