‘Same-Roof’ Rule Which Denied Compensation To Abuse Victims Is Finally Scrapped

All victims abused by someone they lived with can now apply for compensation.
The controversial "same roof" rule will be scrapped on Thursday
The controversial "same roof" rule will be scrapped on Thursday
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Controversial legislation which prevented victims of pre-1979 crimes from receiving compensation if they lived with their attacker has finally been scrapped – more than half a century after it was introduced.

The little-known “same roof” rule was introduced in 1964 to ensure that perpetrators would not benefit from compensation paid to victims they lived with.

The arrangements were changed in October 1979, so victims could claim compensation if they no longer lived with their attacker and were unlikely to do so again. But this was not retrospective, meaning some people may have missed out on compensation if they were a victim of a violent crime prior to the law change.

It often resulted in painful situations where some victims of abuse and violent crime were denied pay-outs, even though other victims of the same perpetrators received compensation because they were not living together or because the abuse occurred before 1979.

Today, a statutory instrument will be laid in Parliament to remove the pre-1979 rule completely. This means all victims abused by someone they lived with can apply for compensation – regardless of when the attack took place and whether they have come forward in the past or been previously denied under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS).

In July 2018 a woman identified only as JT for legal reasons won a landmark Court of Appeal challenge against the “same-roof” rule, with the court judging it to be incompatible with human rights laws. In response to her victory, in September the Ministry of Justice announced it would abolish the rule and examine concerns about the compensation scheme as part of its work on a victims’ strategy.

JT’s stepfather, who abused her when she was aged between four and 17, was convicted of eight offences, including rape and sexual assault, and jailed for 14 years. But she was refused a pay-out by the CICS, even though another of her stepfather’s victims received compensation.

Rita Peak, who was physically and mentally abused by her father, told HuffPost UK the news was “the best ever” for herself and her sister Pauline Whitwell, both of whom waived their anonymity to share their stories.

Peak added: “But we are also sad that we had to go through our lives with this hanging over us. Being let down by the system has been the hardest part of our journey.

“Now hopefully we can both get the right kind of counselling we could never afford before and hopefully move on past this horrendous fight.”

Responding to the news the rule has been scrapped, lawyer Andrew Perriman, who represented JT previously, said: “The government has been slow to act, but at least now victims of historic abuse can progress their claims without further discrimination or delay. Maybe now those victims will feel a sense of closure on this part of their lives and hopefully be able to utilise any compensation they may be awarded to seek support and help with any issues they may have and most importantly get the opportunity to spend more quality time with their families rather than fighting battles that never should have existed in the first place.”

Last month Monica Allen celebrated another landmark legal victory after the UK’s Supreme Court cleared her way to claim financial compensation for the injuries she had suffered at the hands of her mother, who tried to murder her twice during her childhood.

Allen, who waived her right to anonymity, told HuffPost UK: “I do count, I do deserve the compensation and I do have the right, like anyone else who has been through this to apply.”

Paul Brown, principal solicitor at Legal Services Agency, a law centre which worked with Allan on her case since 2012, said: “About time too! The ‘same roof’ rule has been a source of injustice now for years and it took litigation, in Monica Allen’s case, seven years to correct. I hope other injustices in the scheme won’t take so long. The CICS is a key way society expresses solidarity with victims. We need to make sure it stays fair!”

Victims Minister Edward Argar said: “We are abolishing the out-dated ‘same-roof’ rule so no victim is unfairly denied access to compensation after the trauma they suffered many years ago, simply because they lived with their attacker.

“This delivers on another of the commitments we set out in the Victims Strategy last year, and we are undertaking a full review of the whole scheme to ensure that it continues to reflect the changing nature of violent crime and needs of victims.

“Today’s announcement, along with the Victims Strategy, is a further reflection of this Government’s determination to ensure that victims of crime get the support they need and deserve.”

Baroness Newlove, Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, said: “I very much welcome the Government’s move to abolish the ‘same roof’ rule.

“I have always felt that the rule was unfair. It has caused unnecessary distress to many victims and survivors, especially within families, where some siblings have been eligible for criminal injuries compensation and yet others have not, solely on the grounds of the date on which, the abuse took place.

“In future, all victims of historic abuse will be treated equally and their access to compensation will be an acknowledgement of their suffering and pain.”

New and past applicants refused an award under the pre-1979 rule will still need to meet all the remaining eligibility criteria within the existing compensation scheme.


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