Compensation in the Magistrates Court

The Compensation Order

When a defendant is convicted of an offence the Magistrates can make a compensation order when passing sentence. The order is intended to make the defendant compensate the victim of the crime. A compensation order can either be a sentence in its own right or more commonly an additional part of the overall sentence. Compensation can be ordered if the defendant is sent to prison only if the defendant has the means to pay immediately.  If the Magistrates decide that no compensation is payable then they must state their reasons why in open court.

What does compensation cover?

It can be ordered for any personal injury, loss or damage caused by the offence or any other offences which are taken into consideration by the court. The latter are offences which the defendant wishes to admit and do not form part of the charges but are listed on a sheet of paper known as the TIC (taken into consideration) form. It should be noted that personal injury includes psychological injury caused to the victim. In terms of property stolen by the defendant if this is recovered but in a damaged condition then compensation can still be ordered regardless of whether the defendant was responsible for the damage or not. All that matters is that the damage was caused whilst the property was out of the owner’s control.

What is excluded?

Compensation is not payable to the dependents of a victim who has died save for the cost of funeral expenses and provided that the death did not result from a road accident involving a motor vehicle. Neither is compensation payable for injury, loss, damage due to an accident arising out of the presence of a motor vehicle on a road.  However there are two exceptions. The first is where damage was caused to a motor vehicle which was stolen or taken without the owner’s consent but this does not include damage caused to other vehicles by the stolen vehicle. The second is when the defendant was not insured and no compensation is payable by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau.   This organisation is funded by all UK insurance holders and subject to complying with the requirements and time limits of the scheme will compensate the victims of uninsured drivers. Personal injury and damage are covered but not the first £300 of a claim for damage. Compensation if ordered in these circumstances can include an amount for the loss to the victim of his “no claims” bonus.

Fixing the amount of compensation

It is for the prosecution to establish the loss and to produce evidence this effect. The evidence will often be in the form of a statement from the victim either listing the price of the stolen items coupled with a receipt or detailing the type and extent of personal injury sustained. In terms of personal injury the Magistrates will look to their guidelines to ascertain the appropriate amount. For example a bruise could attract up to £75 in compensation depending on the size and age of the victim. A sprain could attract between £100 and £1000 compensation depending upon the loss of mobility to the victim. The maximum amount of compensation that can be awarded is £5000.

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For more information on:

  • Varying the Compensation Order
  • Compensation and Deprivation Orders
  • Compensation and Confiscation Orders