In July 2018 the Court of Appeal decided that the ‘same-roof’ rule had unfairly denied a claimant who was abused by her stepfather the right to compensation. The government chose to not appeal this judgment, and confirmed that the rule would be removed as part of the Victims Strategy published in September.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme awards taxpayer-funded payments to victims injured as a result of violent crime, paying out over £150 million to victims in 2017/18.
What does this mean?
- More victims will be apply to apply for compensation; and
- Anyone previously denied compensation under the rule, or put off from coming forward because of it, will be able to make fresh applications.
What is the ‘same roof’ rule?
The so-called ‘same roof’ rule blocked victims of violent crime from receiving compensation if the attacker was a family member they were living with at the time of the incident.
- The rule was part of the original (non-statutory) compensation scheme introduced in 1964 and was changed in October 1979, but the changes were not made retrospective.
- The pre-1979 rule applied to adults and children. Under the rule applicants are not entitled to compensation if they were living with their assailant as members of the same family at the time of the incident.
- The reasons for the rule were difficulties with evidence and a wish to ensure that offenders did not benefit from compensation paid to the victim who they were living with.
- The rule applies to all victims of abuse, including physical as well as sexual abuse.
- Under the 2012 Scheme, applicants can still be refused compensation if at the time of the incident they were adults living with the assailant as members of the same family unless they are no longer living together and are unlikely to do so again.
Victims Minister Edward Argar said:
“The ‘same-roof’ rule was unfair and we recognise the impact this had on victims whose applications were refused simply because they lived with their attacker. Whilst no amount of compensation can make up for the immense suffering caused by such appalling crimes, by abolishing the rule we are widening access to much needed support and continue to review the entire scheme so it better supports victims. Improving support for victims is at the very heart of this government’s work, and through our Victims Strategy we are determined to improve their experience at every stage of the justice system.”
Gabrielle Shaw, NAPAC’s CEO, said:
“We are delighted that the ‘same roof’ rule has been scrapped. Given that most child abuse happens within the family and children are likely to have had no choice but to live under the same roof as their abuser, this rule was rightly viewed as deeply unfair and punitive.”
President of the Law Society of England and Wales Christina Blacklaws said:
“This change is a welcome correction to a historical anomaly that was causing significant injustice. We are very pleased the government has made this change, as a result of which more victims of historical child abuse will be able to claim recompense for the traumas they suffered.”
How to apply?
- Apply online via http://www.gov.uk/claim-compensation-criminal-injury;
- Call the CICA Customer Service Centre on 0300 003 3601; or
- Contact your local solicitor, who may have the expertise to take you through the application.
Victims applying or reapplying for compensation will still have to meet the Scheme’s other eligibility criteria to be made an award.