Crime Victim’s £3 Million Award Causes Legal Quandary

Compensation paid to victims of violent crime must never benefit those who caused their injuries. However, when assaults are committed in a family context it is often extremely difficult to ensure that that does not happen.

The Court of Protection faced up to that difficulty in a case involving a man in his 20s who suffered a severe non-accidental brain injury when he was five months old and was subsequently awarded almost £3 million in compensation by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority to fund the lifetime of care he would need.

Almost nothing was known about how, or by whom, the man’s injuries were inflicted. However, it was alleged that three people – his brother, his mother and her then partner – were all present at the time. The boy was the subject of child protection proceedings following his injury, but was later returned to his mother’s care.

He had been left suffering from significant intellectual, cognitive and behavioural problems and a legal quandary arose due to his incapacity to make important decisions for himself. In order to exclude the possibility that his assailant might gain some advantage from his award, the Court directed the creation of a trust to ensure that the money is used solely for his benefit. A solicitor and a local authority director of social services were appointed as his trustees.