Robert Glancy QC and Georgina Hirsch set Supreme Court precedent on “crime of violence”

The Supreme Court’s judgment in Jones (by Caldwell) (Respondent) v First Tier Tribunal (Respondent) and Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (Appellant) [2013] UKSC 19 is a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’ for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, and a victory on principle for Robert Glancy QC and Georgina Hirsch, although a tragic decision on the facts for Gareth Owen Jones.

The CICA had appealed the Court of Appeal decision in which Robert Glancy QC had won the argument over whether a person who had been injured as a result of a serious accident arising from a suicide on a busy motorway – where the suicide had been ‘reckless’ as to whether others might be injured as a result of his actions, and thus committing ‘GBH’ (a section 20 offence under the Offences Against the Person Act  1861) – was entitled to compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (‘the Scheme’). The CICA tried to persuade the Supreme Court that not all section 20 offences should be treated as ‘crimes of violence’ under the Scheme.  Previous case authorities had refused to define what a ‘crime of violence’ is, but the Devereux team succeeded in arguing that even if it is not possible to give an exhaustive list of all crimes that count as crimes of violence, the crime of grievous bodily harm will always be a crime of violence under the applicable Scheme.

Unfortunately for Mr Jones, the Supreme Court also decided that the First Tier Tribunal decision which Mr Glancy QC had successfully appealed, had been analysed too harshly below, and therefore the Court reinstated the finding (first made before either of the Devereux team were involved in his case) that there was not sufficient evidence on the facts of this case that Mr Jones had been injured as a result of a section 20 offence. Accordingly Mr Jones is left with no compensation for his catastrophic injuries from the motorway crash.

Unfortunately for others in Mr Jones’ situation, the government changed the Scheme in November 2012 to specifically exclude a range of violent crimes, including injuries from section 20 offences which were not specifically intended to harm that particular individual.  

The instructing solicitors for Mr Jones were Linda Levison and Arti Shah of Pattinson & Brewer.

The Judgment was covered in The Lawyer on 29 April, please click here to view.  

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