Scottish Limitation Abolition Bill and Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry Update

The Scottish Parliament has confirmed that it will debate the Limitation Abolition Bill, at Stage 1, in the afternoon of Thursday 27 April.

In other news, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, whose cost from its set-up on 1 October 2015 to 31 March 2017 has recently been confirmed at over £5.7m, has now set the timetable for Phase 1 of its Public Hearings. Commencing on 31 May there are evidence sessions scheduled to 9 June covering: Continue reading

Inquiries update: progress and developments

The various inquiries connected with sexual abuse of children have now had a period of making progress. Recent and expected developments are summarised below.

Independent Jersey Care Inquiry

The final report from the Jersey inquiry was due to be available within the first quarter of 2017. However, it has recently been announced that publication will be delayed for a short period.  This is due to some new information being made available to the panel in relation to Phase 3 of the enquiry dealing with recommendations for the future of childrens’ care in Jersey. A revised publication date has yet to be confirmed.

IICSA

The first hearings in the Children Overseas – Child Migration investigation have been held. A number of child migrant witnesses gave oral evidence along with the Inquiry appointed experts. The organisations involved in child migration will give their evidence at a hearing starting on 10 July. A further preliminary hearing will be held on 9 May.

The Victims & Survivors Consultative Panel (VSCP) has published revised Terms of Reference. The Panel has seven members who will advise the Inquiry on its engagement with victims and survivors; its communication with the public; share their expertise and knowledge in developing the work of the Inquiry; and advice on the formulation of recommendations. The VSCP has published a report on its work to date.

A second preliminary hearing in the Accountability & Reparations Investigation will be held on 28 March. There are five case studies within that investigation and a timetable is anticipated for evidence and hearings in those five case studies.

The Department of Sociology at Lancaster University has been commissioned by the Research Project to prepare a rapid evidence assessment of what is known about the characteristics and vulnerabilities of victims of online-facilitated child sexual abuse and exploitation. Anyone wishing to contribute material to this research is requested to provide materials by 28 April 2017.

Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry

The SCAI has now published a number of administrative guides to explain how it will operate. These include protocols for the provision of witness statements and other evidence and for anonymity and other restriction orders. Factsheets explaining what the SCAI will do when it is told about abuse and disclosure of allegations have also been produced.

Royal Commission, Australia

As noted in our earlier blog the RC is producing many publications as it moves to its final report. In the last two weeks it has published the following:

  • A research report which considers the recruitment and support of carer in out-of-home care which includes foster care, kinship care and residential care settings
  • A research report which looked at the current services and facilities focused on child sexual abuse prevention. This concluded that there was a lack of co-ordination between the various organisations working in this area.

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Written by Paula Jefferson, partner and abuse claims expert at BLM

Scottish Limitation Abolition Bill

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

Key dates in abuse inquiries

As a new year starts we can expect some significant developments in the next few months in the various abuse related inquiries.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry – Northern Ireland – the final report was submitted to the Minister on 6 January and will be published on 20 January.

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Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill to be introduced

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.”


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Written by Frank Hughes, Partner

Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry and Limitation Bill – an update

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”.

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The continuing complication of Prescription in non-recent Scottish abuse claims

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.

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