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Your Right to Compensation

Compensation orders

Under the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 a court, when sentencing, may make an order for the offender to pay compensation to the victim for any personal injury, loss or damage resulting from the offence. This should take precedence over the imposition of a fine, if the offender cannot afford both. The court is required to give reasons if they do not issue a compensation order in a case where it has the power to do so. The victim does not have to apply to the court before such an order can be made. In determining compensation the court will consider any evidence and representations made on behalf of the offender or by the prosecution. The latter could include details of your damage, loss or injury.

Civil Damages

You can sue a suspect for damages in a civil court where there is a lower standard of proof. You can do this even if there has been an acquittal in the criminal court.

Criminal Injuries Compensation

You are eligible to apply for Criminal Injuries Compensation if:
  • you have been physically or psychologically injured because of a violent crime;
  • you are the parent, child, husband, wife or partner of a person who has died as a result of a violent crime;
  • you were present when a violent crime took place against another person with whom you were in a close relationship, or immediately afterward, and your involvement in the incident caused you a psychological injury.

The time limit for applications is generally within two years of the crime. You can apply for Criminal Injuries Compensation even if no suspect has been identified or there has been no conviction. You must have reported the crime to the police.

Once the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority have all the relevant information in support of your application, such as from the police and medical authorities, they will decide whether you are entitled to receive an award and if so what amount, based on a tariff system. If you disagree with their decision you can apply for a review. If you disagree with the review decision, you can appeal to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel which is an independent body.

Compensation awards may be reduced or withheld if you are seen to have contributed to the crime or if you have an unspent criminal conviction. If your claim is refused or reduced, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority is obliged to provide proper reasons, together with disclosure of the supporting evidence or at least the gist of it, for its decision. This was following a ruling in the case R v Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, Ex Parte Leatherland, 2000

Application forms for Criminal Injuries Compensation are available from
Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority
Tay House
300 Bath Street
G2 4LN
Freephone: 0800 358 3601

You can also obtain a form from the police or from Victim Support, who can provide information about the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme and help with completing the form. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority provides a leaflet entitled Compensation for Victims of Violent crime.

The establishment of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel and the tariff system were put into statute through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 1995.

It is worth noting that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that there is no right to compensation for victims in relation to crimes committed by private individuals - Stuart v UK [1998].

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