The body that pays compensation to victims of violent crime has backed down in the face of a judicial review challenge and restored its policy of paying awards directly to solicitors.
In a related development, it is also to allow legal fees to be paid out of awards granted to children.
In October 2010, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) said that in future it would pay awards directly to the victims and no longer through their representing solicitors.
This raised fears that overseas or unhappy clients might default on legal fees.
London firm Levenes secured permission to subject CICA’s new policy to legal review. CICA has now backed down and agreed to resume paying awards directly to solicitors - but only where the client asked for this.
Levenes senior partner David Levene said: ‘Many applicants to CICA do not read or write English, and some live abroad. They cannot realistically pursue an application without representation. This decision will mean that they can get good quality legal representation to help with what is often a complicated claim.’
CICA also said that it would allow solicitors’ fees to be paid out of the awards invested on behalf of children.
Meanwhile, justice secretary Kenneth Clarke said that the government is to abolish compensation payments for minor injuries and disallow claims from convicted criminals. The victims’ surcharge scheme, where offenders pay towards a victim’s compensation, is to be extended, in part by increasing motoring fines.