Government is finally scrapping the “same roof rule” for victims of child abuse
If you have been the victim of child abuse, you may wish to make an application to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) for compensation. Money, of course, can never fully compensate for the suffering for sexual and/or physical abuse which may well have caused significant psychiatric trauma but nevertheless, compensation can help you to access therapy, for example, with a view to re-building your life.
But whilst many victims of child abuse have been assisted, many applicants have failed to succeed due to the “same roof rule” which was put in place in 1964 and which stated that if you lived in the same house as the perpetrator, you would not be eligible for compensation. The reason this rule was put into place was to prevent abusers benefiting from the compensation made to their victims.
In October 1979, the Government amended the rule so as to allow victims of child abuse to succeed in applications for child abuse even if you did live in the same house. However, the amendment was not retrospective which meant that if you submitted an application after 1 October 1979 for compensation relating to abuse that occurred before 1 October 1979, your application would still not succeed.
This, of course, was very harsh and it is apparent from figures provided by the CICA that since 2015, 180 child sex abuse victims have been denied compensation because they lived with the person who abused them. Undoubtedly, there are many, many more victims of child abuse who have not applied.
The stark reality of the situation is brought home by the case of Alissa Moore. In 2015, her father was sentenced to 24 years in prison for raping both Alissa and her younger sister. Although Alissa’s sister was awarded compensation for the abuse, Alissa’s application was unsuccessful because she was abused before October 1979.
For many years, groups have campaigned for the “same roof rule” to be scrapped as it is so unfair. In July 2018, in a landmark judgment, the Court of Appeal held that this rule which prevented some individuals from claiming compensation was unlawful in that it was discriminatory and contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights.
This particular case involved an individual who had been repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted between the ages of 4 and 16 by her stepfather. The victim lived with the consequences of the abuse until in her 40s, she finally got the courage to go to the Police. In 2012, her perpetrator was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment after being convicted of 8 offences including rape and sexual assault.
Despite the conviction, however, her application for compensation to the CICA was rejected due to the “same roof rule”. The unfairness of the situation, not unlike Alissa Moore’s case, was that the CICA had made an award of compensation to another member of the family who had suffered abuse by the same individual but who had not lived in the same house as him.
The Court of Appeal unanimously held that the application of the “same roof rule” was unlawful.
“Happily, the Government has recently announced that it agrees with the ruling and that the “same roof rule”, which in the past has denied compensation to many child abuse victims, is finally going to be scrapped”.
If you have been affected by child abuse, experienced Solicitors at Swain & Co can provide sympathetic guidance and support in making an application to the CICA at this difficult time.
Vicki Wright Solicitor at Swain & Co regularly assists in applications made to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. If you, a family member or a friend have experienced abuse as a child, contact Vicki Wright today on 023 92 483322.