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Survivors of historic abuse must be helped through CICA scheme

Today’s announcement from the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) confirming the long-awaited abolishment of the ‘Same Roof Rule’ is certainly one we welcome, and one we hope finally brings legal redress for victims of abuse, neglect and assault.

The law is known to have prevented as many as 4,000 survivors from claiming compensation, as it has until now blocked people from seeking damages if they were abused by someone they lived with before October 1, 1979.

Today’s law change has paved the way not only for those 4,000 people to reapply for damages, but potentially 3,500 additional cases over the next two years.

It could see as much as £126 million in compensation paid out through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), a scheme in place to support and compensate blameless victims of crime for their suffering and the impact on their life.

There is no doubt this has been injustice on a huge scale which has been allowed to go on for far too long. It has only served to cause further suffering to people who have suffered so much.

It is staggering that so many people have been let down for so long by a scheme which was actually established to support victims of crime.

The changes announced by the MOJ today will make justice more accessible and certainly we welcome the forming of a specialist CICA team to support those coming forward or reapplying, as it can too often prove another traumatic process, when it should be made as straight forward as possible.

It would be simply unacceptable given this change if the process of claiming were now to prevent people accessing the justice they have so-long deserved.

We note from the announcement that there is a time limit on making claims, so seeking specialist advice as soon as possible to ensure all relevant information to support claims, such as details of police investigations and social services reports, are gathered and submitted is key.

The failing of this law has been clearly highlighted in a case in which we at Hudgell Solicitors represent a family where some siblings have been denied compensation having being repeatedly physically and sexually abused by their father in the early 1970s, yet a younger sibling has received compensation because she was abused by their father after 1979.

They suffered the same, under the same roof and at the hands of the same vicious man, but the law has treated them completely differently, until now.

That particular case demonstrates the ridiculous flaws in the law.

For many, particularly victims of sexual abuse when young, it can take years for them to feel strong enough to come forward and talk about what happened to them, as we have seen increasingly in recent high-profile cases.

This CICA scheme was established to quite rightly give people who have been blameless victims of crime – many of whom are mentally scarred for the rest of their lives – access to justice and much needed support.

Sadly for many, until now, the Same Roof Rule has only served to such people through further suffering and heartache.

They have also been denied vital financial and psychological support which can make a huge difference to people living their lives forever under the cloud of abuse suffered.

As experts in this area of work, supporting hundreds to make successful CICA claims each year, we will be delighted to help people seek legal redress they have long deserved, and advise them through their claims process to ensure their suffering is fully recognised by the scheme.

BBC News (Victoria Derbyshire Show) Brave account of clients experience of historic abuse

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