On appeal from: [2011] EWCA Civ 400.

The respondent, acting by his mother, applied to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority for compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2011. He had suffered very severe injuries after a lorry swerved in an attempt to avoid a man who had run into traffic to commit suicide, and hit the vehicle he was driving in.

The Scheme rejected the application on the basis that the respondent was not a victim of a “crime of violence”. The First-tier Tribunal dismissed his appeal because it was not satisfied that the suicidal person intended to cause harm or was reckless as to whether harm would be caused by his actions when he ran out into the carriageway, and so had not committed the offence of inflicting grievous bodily harm contrary to the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, s 20.

The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the appeal, restoring the decision of the First-tier Tribunal. Whilst every sympathy was due to the victim, the terms of the Scheme did not permit an award of compensation to be made. Although the crime s 20 defines would always amount to “a crime of violence” for the purposes of the Scheme, it had not been proved that such an offence had been committed in this case. The Court of Appeal was held to have been unduly influenced by its view that it was highly probable that anyone running into traffic on a busy motorway would at least foresee the possibility of harm to other road users. The interpretation of a specialised statutory scheme was entrusted by Parliament to the tribunal system; it is for the tribunals to develop a consistent approach in providing guidance to expressions central to the scheme, and an appeal court should not venture too readily into this area.

For judgment, please download: [2013] UKSC 19
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