David Enright Partner at How + Co.
A full transcript of the seminar can be found here
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) is a national scheme that provides compensation to victims of crime from the public fund, particularly in circumstances where a victim is unable to seek damages from the perpetrator if, for example, the perpetrator is not known, is dead or in some other way unable to be pursued for compensatory damages.
The purpose of the Seminar was to consider the CICS Scheme and in particular obstacles in the scheme that might hinder Survivors in gaining access to the scheme and achieving appropriate levels of compensation, along with identifying improvements that could be made to the scheme.
There were a number of significant contributors to the seminar including:
Myself and Adam Tear of Howe & Co Solicitors
Baroness Newlove, the Victims Commissioner for England and Wales and Michelle Brown, an adviser to Baroness Newlove,
The former chairman of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel
Mark Castle, chief executive of victim support
The coordinator of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers special interest group on child abuse
And a number of specialist solicitors who specialise in assisting Survivors in seeking compensation through the CICA scheme.
In the run up to the seminar I made repeated representation to the Inquiry requesting that core participants (who had weaved anonymity) would be permitted to make contributions directly to the Inquiry’s Panel. The Inquiry maintained a firm line that this would not be permitted and that all comments would have to go through the core participant’s legal representative (i.e. myself).
I continued to press on this issue. I asked Sam Stein QC to contact and speak with Peter Skelton QC, who was to facilitate this Seminar. Sam spoke with Mr. Skelton on the evening of 20 February at some length, and impressed upon him the importance of allowing Survivors to contribute directly to the Panel. Mr Skelton maintained that this could not be permitted and that contributions would have to go through legal representatives.
I fully understood Liz and Brian’s decision not to attend in circumstances where it appeared that direct contributions would not be facilitated. I made it clear to Mr. Skelton that you had not attended for this very reason.
I met Mr Skelton and his junior before the Seminar and impressed upon him again the importance (both to Survivors and to the inquiry) that core participants be allowed to contribute directly to the Panel. I did so in no uncertain terms. I then introduced him to our clients who were in attendance, who also impressed upon him, in the clearest terms, of their requirement that they be able to contribute directly to the Panel.
Mr Skelton agreed to raise the matter again with the Panel and it was agreed that core participants would be able to make direct contributions at the end of each session. As you will see from the Transcript Nigel O’Mara, Peter Robson, Karen Gray and Tom Harding all made excellent and well received contributions.
The four sessions focused on different aspects of the CICS scheme and access to it. It concluded with a session on proposals for improvement. As you will see from the transcript I proposed that the Inquiry make seven preliminary recommendations for change now, and not at some later stage.
We were pleased that the Chair, in her closing remarks, “ We will certainly be making reference to our thinking on this when we publish the report next year. But as I said earlier, we will take into account Mr Enright's comments about timing.” That is to say my submission that the Inquiry could take action on a number of issued very quickly and not wait for the publication of its full report next year.
This is a matter I will be pressing the Inquiry on today when I write to the Inquiry re emphasising the need to take prompt action by making at least some recommendations for improvements to the scheme now.
Once again, we were the only firm of solicitors who arranged for our clients to attend this seminar. Without our work and the efforts of the core participants who attended, there would have been no Survivors in attendance, which would have greatly lessened this seminar.