Bill To Remove Time-Bar On Child Abuse Damages

15 March 2016, 06:00

A draft Bill which would remove a barrier on people who were abused as children seeking civil damages in court has been published.

If passed, the legislation would remove the three-year time limit, also known as time-bar, on those who were abused on or after September 26 1964, seeking damages in the civil court.

The three-year limitation period will be removed for all cases of child abuse irrespective of where abuse took place.

The draft Bill also sets out circumstances for cases which have not succeeded in court due to time bar being applied, to be raised again.

Under the existing law, a person who wishes to raise a personal injury action for damages must do so generally within three years of the date on which the injuries were sustained.

In practice, this means that a survivor of child abuse is required to raise civil action by the date of their 19th birthday.

Legal affairs minister Paul Wheelhouse said: "We made a clear commitment to remove the three-year limitation period which constrains survivors of child abuse from accessing civil justice.

"The draft Bill published today demonstrates how we will honour that commitment. 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.

"I know how difficult it has been for many to reopen such difficult memories to help shape our understanding and my colleagues and I are extremely grateful for the insight that survivors have shared with us.

"We will continue to engage with survivors as the Bill progresses through Parliament to ensure their views are considered at each and every step.''

Sandra Brown, founder of the Moira Anderson Foundation for childhood abuse victims, said: "We greatly welcome and congratulate the Scottish Government for their commitment to removing time bar.

We see the draft Bill, as well as the Scottish child abuse inquiry, as huge steps forward for survivors of child abuse."

Gordon Dalyell, of the not-for-profit Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), said: "The limitation period was entirely inappropriate for child abuse claims.

"This announcement finally acknowledges that it can take a long time for someone to recognise how the course of his or her life has been affected by the abuse endured as a child.''