The Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Act 2017 comes into force today.
Previously, we have highlighted the Act’s retrospective effect in allowing claims arising from childhood abuse which happened after 26 September 1964 to be litigated without any time-bar impediment.
It is also worth emphasising the Act’s prospective application. Childhood abuse, which may be happening now or at any time in the future as well as after 1964, could give rise to litigation without any time-bar hurdle for the claimant to overcome, not only now but for all time coming. That should be borne in mind in the context of record-keeping, going forward, as well as to date.
Having received 15 written responses to its call for evidence on the Bill to abolish limitation in cases of childhood abuse, the Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament will hear its first oral evidence on the Bill when it meets tomorrow (Tuesday 21 February 2017).
That evidence is scheduled to be given on behalf of: APIL (the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers); FBGAQH (Former Boys and Girls Abused in Quarriers Homes); Rape Crisis Scotland; Victim Support Scotland; ABI (Association of British Insurers) and FOIL (Forum of Insurance Lawyers).
Written by Frank Hughes and Siobhan Kelly, partners, Glasgow
The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government 2016 / 2017 has been revealed on 6 September. Before June 2017, the Scottish Government intends to introduce the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament. When making the announcement of the legislative programme upon this, Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland said that the Bill “fulfils a recommendation from the Scottish Human Rights Commission.” She added “As the Human Rights Commission has pointed out, the three year limitation rule is not appropriate for child abuse” explaining that, “the reasons for victims not coming forward until later in life are entirely understandable.” She concluded by advising the Scottish Parliament that “This Bill will ensure that the justice system works better for victims of such terrible crimes.”
Written by Frank Hughes, Partner
As we reported on this blog on 28 July 2016, Lady Smith, a Scottish Judge since 2001 and, from 2011, a Scottish Appeal Court Judge, is the new Chair of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry. Unlike the English and Welsh Inquiry, the present remit of the Scottish Inquiry excludes non-State institutions. Hence, for instance, those alleging abuse in religious settings in the community, in contrast to State-provided care institutions, are not covered at present by the Scottish Inquiry.
Pressure is, though, building to extend the Scottish Inquiry’s scope. Alan Draper, spokesman for In Care Abuse Survivors (Incas) was reported, in the 31 August 2016 Herald newspaper, as saying that “we put forward (to the Deputy First Minister of Scotland, John Swinney) a powerful argument about extending (the scope of the Scottish Inquiry).” He adds, though, that he is “not hopeful”.
A bill proposed by the Scottish Government seeks to remove limitation in child abuse claims. We have previously commented on some of the issues which arise one of which is in connection with prescription.
Last week Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, delivered a speech to the Scottish Parliament entitled “Priorities Speech – Taking Scotland Forward”.
No mention is made of the proposed Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill (nor, for that matter, of an Expenses and Funding of Civil Litigation (Scotland) Bill). It is anticipated that the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson MSP, will speak specifically about those matters shortly..
A recent decision of the Court of Session has added to the complexities associated with what on the face of it seems a short and straightforward bill to change limitation in abuse claims in Scotland.