“Same roof” rule abolished

10 Jul 2019

A woman who was sexually abused for many years by her step-father won a landmark case in 2018 which overturned a rule, whereby victims who lived in the same home as their attacker could not claim compensation.

The Court of Appeal held that the long standing “same roof” rule was incompatible with human rights laws.

Up until 2018 victims of abuse were prevented from applying to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) for compensation, if they were living, or had been living, at the same address as the perpetrator.

The rule was intended to ensure that perpetrators would not benefit from the compensation paid to the victims they lived with. This was changed in 1979 so that child victims of domestic crimes could claim compensation, however the change was not applied retrospectively.

Further changes were made in 2012 but the “same roof” rule was maintained amid government fears that abolishing it would lead to a rise in the number of claims.

In the 2018 case Lord Justice Leggatt, who heard the claimant’s appeal said the scheme was “all the more unfair” because the claimant, who was a child when the abuse took place, had no control over where and with whom she lived.

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 CICA scheme had refused some 180 applications, that but for the “same roof” rule would have been accepted.

“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.

Tom Hartigan, Partner at Trethowans comments: “It is entirely right that victims of abuse be entitled to claim compensation, regardless of where they happened to be residing at the time of the abuse. The Court of Appeal ruling finally allows for some deserved redress, which will hopefully assist them in rebuilding their lives”.

Trethowans are able to advise anyone who has been injured as a result of abuse, acts of terrorism, or any violent assault. We are also able to assist with any appeal to CICA, if an initial application has been rejected, or to advise as to the likely amount of compensation that a claimant should be entitled to.

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