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Can a victim of domestic violence sue her abuser?

(6 Posts)
NoMarymary Thu 06-Nov-14 10:06:04

Purely rhetorical question!

Is there any reason a man or woman convicted of assaulting his/her partner can't be sued for monetary recompense?

Would the marital status matter?

Or does the criminal injuries compensation board make awards?

Just curious really as I've never heard of this.

TensionWheelsCoolHeels Thu 06-Nov-14 10:51:52

1st - I'm not a lawyer or legally qualified so I may well be wrong (as I'm not knowledgeable about the legality etc.) but my understanding is that a private civil action, to sue for compensation, is possible but depending on the specifics of the nature of injuries etc. might not be worthwhile. Non permanent injuries don't always attract huge sums of compensation and if there has been a claim already paid out under criminal compensation scheme, I think any further award made via a civil case would deduct the amount already paid via criminal comp scheme. That then makes the civil case less financially viable because you still have to fund the matter & legal costs for this sort of thing can be very high. You also have the chance of getting an award from the court but still not see a penny because the abuser has no assets & you would have difficulty in ever recouping the court award. The judgment would impact day to day things like that person's ability to get any kind of credit with an unsatisfied judgement on their record. But it's a very expensive route to go down to have that sort of impact on an abuser, when the outcome is still that you'll either never see a penny or you'll have years of getting small payments.

I don't know how the marital status of the relationship would be considered - my view is that assault is assault no matter what your martial status is but I'm not a judge. The only time I think this matters is if the person suing is still in the marriage/relationship & part of the claim includes an element of care & assistant that person requires & the abuser is the person who has to provide that care/assistance as a result of their own criminal action. I would suggest that element of the claim would be refused on the basis the abuser should not be allowed to profit from the assault.

As I said, I'm not a lawyer but I have dealt with injury claims pre-lit for about 20 years. I've only ever dealt with 1 case many years ago where the person who caused an injury was convicted of a crime & my vague recollection of how we worked out the remaining compensation I think the previous award was taken into account. I might be wrong though as it was a long time ago & there have no doubt been lots of changes since that case.

NoMarymary Thu 06-Nov-14 11:54:39

Thank you that is very informative and sounds about right. The criminal element would be covered by the CIC scheme and I'm pretty sure a civil claim would have to take this into consideration.

It is clearly very complicated. I suppose if it were much simpler it would be done more, maybe through a small claims court. But a guess if you had been injured by a partner the last thing you would want to do was antagonise them further by suing them. So maybe that's an element. Seems wrong for the taxpayer to pay for something when the perpetrator often gets nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

Maybe assault victims generally should be compensated by the perpetrator?

TensionWheelsCoolHeels Thu 06-Nov-14 13:19:02

In an ideal world, yes the perpetrator should be the one to stump up. But it's rare they have the means or assets to make a civil claim worthwhile. One of the reasons that higher profile abusers usually claim their victims are financially motivated to make accusations is because they will have the means to make this sort of claim financially worthwhile pursuing (if the injuries sustained are serious enough to warrant a high level of compensation). It's still a massive hurdle to overcome as any legal action has to be funded & it's rare that a victim has the financial means to pursue a civil action. It's also a pretty traumatic process to go through because you have to go through lots of assessments & physical/psychological examinations to gather evidence to support your claim, as well as having to go through giving evidence/be cross examined.

I think anyone who is a victim of a violent crime should be able to access compensation but it's far from an easy/straightforward process to go through & the outcome is rarely adequate for what the victim has had to endure in the assault or the legal process needed to access compensation.

NoMarymary Thu 06-Nov-14 19:30:28

Thank you. Massive hurdles! Seems so unfair but that's life I guess. [smiles]

Greengrow Fri 07-Nov-14 07:34:51

Of course. Plenty of civil cases for damages "follow on" from the proven criminal case - it makes it easier not harder. However the main reason it is not done is the spouse may have no money and if you lose you pay both side's legal costs and you have to fund the case yourself unless you can find a lawyer prepared to do it on some kind of conditional basis. Also as said above it may be hard to prove although if the criminal court has already convicted that evidence can be used in the civil case.

So you need a rich an or woman who did the violence who has assets you could seize and will not just skip abroad to avoid paying and be able to prove the case.

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