Case study: CV v CICAP

Quantum: Sexual Abuse; reactive depression, alcohol dependence, anxiety, substantial personality change; anxious avoidant personality disorder, dysmorphophobia.

Tribunal panel hearing on 25th January 2011 - Issues before the panel: Whether the criminal injury sustained by the appellant is appropriately compensated by an award of a standard amount of compensation at level 12 of the Tariff (£8,200).

Loss of earnings and special expenses: These were recoverable notwithstanding that the appellant had a fragmented work history with scant supporting documentation.

The appellant, CV was born on 17 October 1979. During her childhood, the appellant was friends with the assailant's children. Between the period of 1987 and 1990 when the appellant was aged about 7 to 11, she was invited and frequently visited the assailant's house in Bedfordshire where he subjected her to sexual abuse and assaults on many occasions, including exposing her to pornography and taking indecent photographs. The appellant became introverted and withdrawn and attempted suicide at the age of 17. Privately educated however, she achieved excellent O and A levels and went on to study art at Brighton University. She completed her degree in June 2002 with a 2:1 degree and began working at the Tate Gallery in London where she aspired to climb the career ladder in fine art. In April 2003 she suffered a breakdown and disclosed her childhood abuse to her parents in December 2003. From then on her working history became disjointed. For a number of years she was able only to do casual waitressing jobs, or modest commission based work. She relied substantially on DSS benefits.

On 18 December 2006 the appellant's assailant was convicted at Luton Crown Court of 15 counts of indecent assault on a female, including some relating to offences committed against the appellant. He was subsequently sentenced to 7 years imprisonment. He had pleaded not guilty and required the appellant to give evidence against him thus aggravating her suffering.

The appellant lodged an application with the CICA on 7 April 2009 (which fell under the 2008 Scheme). On 4 June 2009 CICA made an award of £8,200 under "Level 12 ? Sexual assault of a child." In June 2009 the appellant applied for an application of review of CICA's award submitting that the appropriate tariff in her case was that of "seriously disabling mental illness, confirmed by psychiatric prognosis". The appropriate level and tariff was level 18, £27,000. A report of Dr Trevor Turner, consultant psychiatrist was submitted with the application for review. Dr Turner's view was the appellant had suffered an "enduring personality change" reflected in a combination of symptoms including depression, harmful use of alcohol, chronic underlying anxiety and lack of self confidence. This suggests a degree of permanence. She has suffered an "anxious (avoidant) personality disorder." In addition the applicant has suffered a "substantive mental disorder for a period of 3 to 4 years". It was argued that Dr Turner's view that the appellant had capacity to recover with treatment "substantially" did not mean completely. Therefore her symptoms represented a "permanent mental illness, seriously disabling in nature, confirmed by psychiatric diagnosis", which justified the level 18 tariff. The appellant also argued that a lost earnings claim was recoverable, together with treatment expenses, both past and future. A schedule of loss was also submitted with the application for review.

On 22 October 2009 CICA rejected the higher award put forward by the appellant and compensation remained assessed at £8,200. CICA contended that there was not sufficient evidence to support any loss of earnings and ignored the appellant's treatment losses.

On 18 February 2010 the appellant applied for a review to the Tribunal Panel. A further updating report from Dr Turner was submitted to the panel. It was submitted that the Appellant had been suffering from a mental disorder from at least 2004 to the present. Given that the mental disorder had lasted over five years, but that she should (with appropriate treatment) be able to recover substantially, it was submitted that she fell within tariff 14 (£13,500).

The appellant repeated her contention that CICA erred in refusing to consider that loss of earnings had been established. The Appellant clearly had the ability to work full time within the field of fine art but due to her depressive symptoms attributable to her abuse she was unable to do so. Evidence of her educational and working history was submitted to the panel. It was argued that that CICA recognised that she had suffered a serious mental disorder justifying an award of £8,200, and did not dispute the contents of Dr Turner's medical report. The period of time for which he concluded she had suffered a substantial mental disorder in the past (approximately 2004-2008) corresponded with her first couple of years after university. These were formative years in terms of finding work and developing a career, and given that the appellant was unable to work at all or only in part during this time it was not surprising that she had not accumulated a work history. The appellant stated that she should not be penalised for her lack of working history which was caused by her mental state, attributable to her childhood sexual abuse.

It was also argued that CICA award did not take account of the appellant's medical treatment and travel costs. Given that it was not disputed that the appellant had suffered a mental disorder, it was submitted that the medical costs flowing from the necessary treatment of this disorder should be awarded.

On 25 January 2011 the appellant attended the Tribunal Panel Hearing. The panel awarded the appellant as follows:

Final Award: £84,390 ? (less £1,000 in relation to interim payment in respect of civil claim which had been running alongside). This included interalia,

Tariff: £13,500 (but 50% reduction in respect of causation reducing to £6,750

Net loss of past earnings award: £56,315

Future loss of earnings award for 1 year: £17,000

Awards were made for care and attendance following the appellant's serious psychiatric breakdowns, counselling and psychiatric treatment (only where receipts were available). In addition the Tribunal Panel ordered reimbursement of costs of the appellant's medical reports.

Total award: £83,390

The panel also stated the appellant should give an undertaking to reimburse the Authority when the civil claim is settled.

25th January 2011