Charity axes compensation advice after being sued by victim

Vss

Kate Wallace (left)

Charity said case exposes it to legal challenges which it can't afford to contest 

11th February 2019 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Victim Support Scotland (VSS) will stop giving advice to people making criminal injury compensation claims (CIC) after one of its clients sued the charity for £100,000.

Despite being the leading organisation helping victims of crime access justice and compensation, the group says it can no longer expose itself to legal challenge.

It comes after a VSS client took the charity to court claiming it had given poor advice regarding compensation he may have been due.

VSS had supported the claim for criminal injuries compensation and, in 2013, the client was awarded £17,000 in recognition of crimes committed against them.

However they claimed they could have received a much bigger sum if VSS had advised them to claim for loss of earnings because of the trauma and abuse they had suffered as a victim. 

Last year a judge ruled in favour of the victim, saying VSS had failed to act with “reasonable skill and care, a duty to address the loss of earnings and to help [the victim] seek to have the award reviewed.”

The client sued the charity for £100,000 though it is not known how much was paid out.

VSS now says the case has made it exposed to legal action and has taken the difficult decision to stop advice from CIC claims because it poses “too many risks".

Instead the charity will offer emotional support.

Kate Wallace, chief executive of VSS, said: “The decision to withdraw from criminal injuries compensation claims representation was an incredibly difficult one.

“But the sheriff’s ruling means providing that service poses too many risks for claimants, our staff and volunteers. We must protect our core role in supporting victims of crime.”

Its sister organisation in both England and Wales has followed suit and no longer gives advice and guidance on applying for criminal injuries compensation.

Kim Leslie, a specialist abuse lawyer at solicitors Digby Brown, said: “The CIC claims process can be complicated and time-consuming – especially where time bars are applied.

"With charities now refusing to help, abuse survivors may find themselves feeling confused or abandoned.

“We urge the CIC and justice workers to act quickly to improve the CIC  application process and communication with victims.

“Until then, we advise victims and survivors to seek expert legal advice.”