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When can I get compensation for a miscarriage of justice?

Our People - Andrew Guile
17 May, 2013

Section 133 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 establishes a scheme that awards compensation to those who suffer a ‘miscarriage of justice.’ But what exactly does that mean?

After the case of Adams in 2011, it was thought that the law in this area, specifically the test you need to meet to be awarded compensation under the scheme, had been done and dusted. Not so. The problem with the Adams case is that nine Supreme Court judges decided the case and ended up split five to four. Even the five who ‘won’ as such, didn’t seem to agree what the correct approach to eligibility was.

Earlier this year we therefore had the case of Ali & Others that has now, hopefully, clarified what the correct test is.

In Ali the court found that the test to be applied is –

‘Has the claimant established, beyond reasonable doubt, that no reasonable jury (or magistrate) properly directed as to the law, could convict on the evidence now to be considered?’

The court also stressed that judges ruling in the criminal court should be taken careful note of. One case among those brought involved a situation where the prosecution offered no evidence on a retrial. Judges dismissing cases due to there being ‘no case to answer’ might also prove successful.

While the combination of Adams and Ali help us better understand the test that has to be applied, it remains the case that the test is one that is very hard to meet. Few applications are successful but there is no charge/fee to make an application so there’s nothing to be lost in submitting one if you fall within the scope of the scheme. Not all cases do, you need to take legal advice on the facts of your case to see if yours might be a case where an application is possible.

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