LONDON, September 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
A last minute decision by the Government to rethink its proposals to cut compensation payments for criminal injury claims has been welcomed by campaigning lawyers.
The Ministry of Justice had proposed to end payments of compensation to victims of crime for claims below £2,500 - injured in incidents of 'lower level violence' - and significantly reduce payments for claims below £11,000. But when a committee of MPs convened to discuss, debate and scrutinise the proposed new Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, new justice minister Helen Grant withdrew the plans.
Karl Tonks, a partner with Fentons Solicitors LLP and president of the not-for-profit Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), said: "This decision will surely be of great relief to many victims of crime who have been injured through no fault of their own.
"It's only right that, as a modern society, we continue to support innocent victims properly and provide them with the redress they need to help them get back on their feet."
Earlier this year, Matthew Evans, partner and head of the Criminal Injuries department at Fentons Solicitors, lent his voice to the calls for a government U-turn on the plans.
"The existing Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority helps thousands of victims and families of those affected by violent crime every year, but there is a set tariff that means victims can only receive a certain amount depending on the severity of the crime and injuries they suffered," said Matthew. "We already feel that this tariff does not reflect the true impact violent crimes can have on their victims. Further reducing the amount of compensation just adds insult to injury."
APIL has vigorously campaigned against the government proposals to reduce the compensation amounts awarded under the CICA scheme. Now, following months of lobbying and meetings involving several groups and organisations, the government has withdrawn the plans.
"Falling victim to crime can be a distressing experience and people can suffer real financial difficulties if they are unable to return to work while they are recovering," said Karl.
A Whitehall spokesman told reporters that justice minister Helen Grant had 'listened' to the views expressed by the committee and the Government would now consider its next move.
Welcoming the U-turn, Karl Tonks said he was pleased that the strength of feeling demonstrated by APIL and others directly affected would appear to have been taken on board by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
"It is imperative, now, that the new team at the MoJ continues in this vein and listens to the needs of the innocent victim in all its reforms of civil justice," said Karl.