Draft legislation to remove the three year personal injuries time limit for claimants seeking damages for historic child abuse has been published by the Scottish Government.
Containing only four sections, the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill would enable survivors who were abused on or after 26 September 1964 to seek damages in a civil court. The start date has been chosen because claims dating from earlier were finally extinguished after 20 years by earlier legislation, and though some survivors have campaigned for that barrier also to be removed, ministers believe that human rights considerations present an obstacle to doing so.
The draft bill is part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to fulfil the recommendations of the Scottish Human Rights Commission Inter-action plan. Among other provisions it allows cases which have failed in court due only to the time bar rules to be raised again. However in these cases also, the court will require to consider Convention rights.
Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Paul Wheelhouse, stated: “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.”
He added: "We will continue to engage with survivors as the bill progresses through Parliament to ensure their views are considered at each and every step. We also welcome the views of other interested parties throughout the process that will unfold.”