Civil action in childhood abuse cases

Three year time bar to seeking justice lifted.

Parliament has voted to remove the three year limit on survivors of childhood abuse seeking civil damages in court.

The Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill will mean that cases arising from childhood abuse on or after 26 September 1964 will no longer face the barrier of the limitation period.

Minister for Community Safety & Legal Affairs, Annabelle Ewing, said:

“I would like to thank survivors who have been at the heart of this process – for their bravery and their persistence, for bringing to our attention the plight and injustices they have suffered, and for not giving up their fight to set these injustices right. I am humbled by the courage they have shown, not only in campaigning for this legislative change but also coming forward and sharing their experiences.

“While our police and prosecutors continue to pursue perpetrators even many years after their crimes, this Bill will strengthen access to justice through the civil courts.

“It recognises the unique position of survivors of childhood abuse as children who were betrayed by those they should have been able to trust – reflecting the abhorrent nature of the abuse, the vulnerability of the child at the time, and the profound impact of abuse; an impact which lasts well into adulthood and which, itself, prevents people from coming forward.

“Survivors have been let down repeatedly: they were severely and fundamentally let down by their abuser and by the adults who were meant to protect them at the time. While raising a civil action may not be the right way forward for everyone, this Bill widens the options available to survivors seeking redress.”

This radical reform is part of the Scottish Government’s wide ranging commitment to people abused as children and would fulfil one of the key recommendations from a consultation the Scottish Human Rights Commission carried out with survivors and other key stakeholders..

The recommendations also called for the merits of an apology law to be considered and the Scottish Government supported the Apologies (Scotland) Act 2016 which is intended to promote a social and cultural change in attitudes to apologising and allow recognition of past events.

The Apologies (Scotland) Act 2016 came into force fully earlier this week.


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