CICA claims offer hope to PI clients
James Barker explains how solicitors can protect a client's interests where an employer intends to robustly defend a vicarious liability claim
Personal injury lawyers will no doubt be aware of Mohamud v WM Morrison Supermarkets plc  UKSC 11, which examined whether Morrisons should be held accountable for the behaviour of Mr Khan, a staff member who seriously assaulted a customer in an unprovoked attack.
The complainant brought a claim against Morrisons on the basis of vicarious liability, which was initially dismissed by the county court, with the decision then being upheld by the Court of Appeal.
In March, the Supreme Court overturned that decision, finding unanimously that Morrisons was liable for its employee’s actions. The court’s decision was based on the point that the nature of the job entrusted to Khan involved him interacting with customers, and that there was sufficient connection between the job and his behaviour to make Morrisons liable.
Following this decision, I saw some of my own vicarious liability cases swing from liability being denied, to offers of settlement being made. The Supreme Court’s ruling, therefore, has helped claimants to obtain justice for their injuries.
However, what happens when the employer’s representative intends to robustly defend the claim? As with any form of litigation, there is always the risk that a claimant will be unsuccessful. My method of dealing with such a situation is to issue a Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority claim in conjunction with the civil claim for damages. If the civil case is unsuccessful, then a claimant can potentially look to claim from the CICA.
That said, the CICA has certain requirements and criteria that must be fulfilled. There is also a two-year time limit to be aware of. Therefore, if you wait to learn the outcome of the civil claim before seeking recompense via CICA, you may find the time taken for the case to be decided has rendered any possible claim invalid.
Another element of the CICA criteria is the fact that the incident must have been reported to the police within 24 hours of it taking place. If this step was not taken, then any claim for damages will be refused.
While the CICA is by no means a sure-fire way of guaranteeing a compensation payout, it is an important part of the claims process when dealing with cases involving assaults at work; indeed, legal practitioners may themselves be accused of negligence if they fail to consider this form of recompense when advising the client.
So, rather than just following the usual civil procedure, I would strongly advise looking into making a CICA application in conjunction with the civil claim for damages. For a client who has suffered serious injury at the hands of another, it could mean the difference between being granted some form of financial recompense, and walking away with nothing.
James Barker is an associate solicitor at Kirwans