Further to our previous article on this subject, this week has seen a draft Bill published in Scotland, which would remove the three year time limit for victims of abuse to pursue civil claims for damages.
If the Bill is approved, it would mean that any persons who suffered abuse after September 1964, irrespective of where it took place, would not have to argue against this limitation period.
The Bill also sets out criteria to re-open cases which were unsuccessful as a result of the failure to bring a claim in time, which could mean that many hundreds of cases can not be reconsidered.
Scottish Legal Affairs Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, stated that “We intend to take forward or support this legislation in the next Scottish Parliament and we will now seek feedback on the draft Bill prior to introduction”.
David Gibbs, Chartered Legal Executive at specialist child abusers solicitors, Jordans, has experienced a number of cases which have failed due to being time barred.
“Many of our clients, or potential clients, feel aggrieved that they cannot seek legal redress in cases, just because they have not brought their claim within a certain amount of time. This has been the case even where their abuser has been convicted in the criminal courts. I share their frustration.
“The civil courts afford a certain level of discretion to Judges to consider whether to waive the time limit, but it is by no means a guarantee. This only serves to heap more misery and disillusionment on already vulnerable people who have, in many cases been victims of horrific abuse.”
At present, there is nothing on the horizon for similar legislation in England and Wales but we are hopeful that Parliament will follow the Scottish lead in the very near future.