A woman sexually abused by her stepfather from the age of four has won a landmark case against the “same roof” rule, which denied her right to compensation. The woman, identified only as JT for legal reasons, had been abused between the ages of four and seventeen. Her stepfather was later convicted of eight offences including rape and sexual assault and was jailed for fourteen years in 2012.
When JT later made an application to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) for damages, her application was refused. This refusal was a result of CICA guidance which prevented a victim being awarded damages if she or he had lived with their abuser prior to 1979, referred to as the “same roof” rule.
The same roof rule was intended to ensure that perpetrators would not benefit from the compensation paid to the victims they lived with. This was amended in 1979 so that child victims of domestic crimes could claim compensation; however it was not applied retrospectively. Further changes were made in 2012 but the same roof rule was maintained amid fears that abolishing it would lead to a rise in the number of claims.
Following JT’s challenge, the Court of Appeal decided the rule was incompatible with human rights laws. Lord Justice Leggatt, who heard the appeal with Sir Terence Etherton and Lady Justice Sharp, said the scheme was “all the more unfair” because JT, who was a child when the abuse took place, had no control over where and with whom she lived.
Following the hearing, JT said she had “finally… achieved something good” out of “an awful situation.”
Her solicitor said the judgment was “the culmination of five years struggle [by JT] when it would have been easier to give up” and that “forty years of injustice” had been overcome by the ruling.
The ruling was also welcomed by children’s charity Barnardo’s, human rights campaigning group Liberty and the charity Victim Support. In a joint statement the organisations said that since 2015, the compensation scheme had refused 180 applications.
“Today’s ruling paves the way for them to receive the justice they deserve, so they can move on with their lives,” the statement said.
The heads of Barnardo’s, Liberty and Victim Support called on the government to urgently rewrite the CICA guidance.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse had previously recommended scrapping the rule in April 2018.
Jordans have a team of expert lawyers who can explain the legal technicalities of the CICA Scheme and maximise the award that you may be entitled to.
Our Child Abuse Lawyers are here to provide support and guidance at a very difficult time. Please contact the Abuse Team on our dedicated Freephone number 0800 9555 094 or request a call back and one of our specialist Child Abuse Lawyers will be happy to discuss your situation in confidence.