The widow of a man killed by her son has won a substantial criminal injuries claim, thanks to the pro bono efforts of lawyers at Lovells.
The firm was successful after representing the woman at appeal stage at the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).
The client had been pursuing a claim since her mentally incapacitated son killed her husband in 1995. Initially representing herself, the woman first received a nil award, which rose to £5,000 on appeal. She further appealed this decision, which is when Lovells became involved in the case.
Lovells lawyer David Vince and trainee David Hartley presented a claim for loss of dependency on behalf of the woman and her other son at an oral hearing of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel. Lovells believes this incidence to be the first fatal dependency claim in England to reach an oral hearing under the new criminal compensation scheme, introduced in 2001. The panel held that dependency of the woman and her son was established, and so awarded more than £300,000, plus backdated interest from 1995, which was the full amount claimed for.
Yasmin Waljee, pro bono officer at Lovells, said: “This was a very distressing case with a significant result. The client has another son at university and the award will be very useful for both their futures. Lovells’ legal representation made a big difference to the outcome of the case.”
The firm’s involvement in the case followed Lovells’ work on CICA cases over the past five years. “We’ve worked with lots of victim support cases in London and the South East with a very good success rate,” noted Waljee. “Seventy to 80 per cent of cases taken do get an award.”
Presently, close to 35 Lovells lawyers have been trained by independent charity Victim Support for work on criminal injuries cases, and at any one time the firm is involved in approximately 12 ongoing cases. The lawyers who take part in the initiative hail from all disciplines, although the majority are litigation lawyers.
Alongside CICA involvement, the firm is active on other criminal injury pro bono initiatives, such as the recently published ‘Guide on State Compensation in EU Member States’ for the charity Support After Murder and Manslaughter (SAMM), which aims to answer questions relating to criminal injury assistance. Further Lovells work for SAMM includes providing assistance for families of victims of crime abroad.
Waljee said Lovells lawyers have been keen to get involved in pro bono work. “It adds a personal element to the work, which is both challenging and rewarding, while from a professional development point of view pro bono opportunities offer invaluable experience.”