Mental illness a criminal injury

Posted: 30th January 2015

StressA man who says that he can only enjoy sado-masochistic sex after he was abused as a child has won an important victory in his fight for substantial compensation. In the first case of its kind, the Upper Tribunal (UT) ruled that the man's 'disorder of sexual preference' was capable of amounting to 'a disabling mental illness'.

The man had 'developed an abnormal sexuality based on sado-masochism', due to the sexual abuse he suffered in his early years. However, he was awarded just £2,000 in damages by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). That decision was later upheld by the First-tier Tribunal (FTT).

He argued that he had suffered a 'serious mental injury' which made it impossible for him to sustain any long-term relationships. Although he 'made no complaint about any effect on his sexual function', he insisted that he was nevertheless 'disabled'. However, a psychologist had reported that any mental problems he suffered were 'not global', only affecting his sex life and formation of relationships.

Allowing the man's appeal, the UT found that his sexual preference disorder 'should be regarded as a mental illness' for the purposes of the CICA scheme. The case was sent back to the FTT to decide whether his condition was 'disabling' – a finding which would entitle him to a much larger payout. CICA awards for permanent mental illness triggered by crime, which cause moderate or serious disability, range from £19,000 to £27,000.