Drinking during pregnancy, foetal personhood and mens rea

On 4 December the Appeal Court handed down its judgment in CP ( A Child) v First-tier Tribunal (Criminal Injuries Compensation) [2014] EWCA Civ 1554, which concerned

“the ability of a child, (CP), to claim criminal injuries compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, (CICA), as a result of being born with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) as a direct consequence of her mother’s excessive drinking while pregnant in circumstances where it was asserted that the mother was aware of the danger of harm to her baby being caused by drinking to excess” [1].

CP was born in June 2007 to her mother, a young woman with alcohol addiction. In November 2009, an application was made under the CICA scheme on behalf of CP by her local authority. CICA rejected her application for compensation on the grounds that CP had not sustained an injury directly attributable to a crime of violence within the terms of paragraph 8(a) of CICA’s 2008 scheme. CP’s compensation claim was based on the assertion that her mother had committed an offence against her as defined under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 by drinking excessively during pregnancy.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal against the decision of the Upper Tribunal granting CICA’s application for judicial review and quashing a decision of the First-Tier Tribunal dated 7 February 2011 that she was eligible for compensation. Continue reading