Back to top
Article

Book reviews

1 July 04

Review of Maximising Criminal Injuries Compensation

by Gerard Considine

This book is a clear and concise reference for all of the major considerations and law relating to criminal injuries compensation. It is designed for both lawyers and other agencies representing those who are the victims of crime. It brings together the full text of the scheme and how it has been interpreted, which should make the book a necessity to anyone practising in this field.

The book gives a brief history of the scheme before embarking on a general overview and then moving to a detailed assessment of its operation. In particular it clearly sets out and backs up with authorities the more unusual aspects of the scheme. The overview section deals with issues of what is a criminal injury, victims and applicants, and the principles of the calculation of compensation. This section deals not only with crimes of violence but “other allowable causes”, and also looks into the differences between primary and secondary victims. The section on fatal cases sets out easy to follow illustrations of who is entitled to compensation. It also provides general information on the discretionary refusal of awards. The calculation of compensation is clearly explained and the details of the calculations are dealt with at various sections of the book.

The second section deals with the practicalities in greater detail. For example, the chapter dealing with eligibility issues sets out the current law governing special cases such as victims of domestic violence and of road traffic offences. It provides authorities governing the operation of the scheme and does not seek to argue whether the rules are right or wrong. It leads throughout therefore to a clear reference book where the practitioner can quickly identify the issue, and the relevant information with authorities is readily available. It follows a similar pattern of clear and concise information on how to interpret the scheme, frequently giving tips and well structured examples of particular problems and how best to deal with them. It provides not only insight into the guidelines for interpretation of the scheme and those operating it, but details of judicial review decisions on the failure of those operating the scheme to follow these guidelines. The book gives an invaluable understanding of the operation of the scheme and the discretionary powers to refuse or reduce an award. It will allow qualified and non-qualified practitioners alike the ability to understand how to frame proper appeals and how properly to challenge injustice in the operation of the system.

If there is a criticism of the book it would be that the split between the overview and detail sections means that certain sections are repeated. However it is an understandable separation between theory and practice. There may be a degree of overlap but it is difficult to consider a different format that would work as well.

In the appendices the book also provides examples of calculations of the compensation to be awarded. Since the introduction of the tariff scheme the main awards are less complicated to work out, although there is still information here that is worthwhile. The calculations of financial loss, and later in the appendices the examples of calculating future losses, with illustration of why net pre-injury earnings are not a reliable basis for a loss of earnings claim, are easy to follow but should be understood before submitting an application as the financial consequences can be significant.

The book contains all the information required to practise properly in this field. It contains the full operating rules of the scheme along with helpful flow charts, tips and information never fully put together before now. There is more to criminal injuries than simply filling out a form and anyone serious about ensuring proper representation of their clients in this area will have to buy this book.

Gerard Considine, Fitzpatrick & Co, Glasgow