Holyrood to vote on scrapping time bar for child abuse survivors

Legislation to lift a time bar to allow survivors of childhood abuse to sue for damages will be voted on at Holyrood later.

Thursday, 22nd June 2017, 8:31 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 11:36 am
Holyrood is to vote on scrapping the time bar for abuse survivors. Stock image, Jayne Wright
Holyrood is to vote on scrapping the time bar for abuse survivors. Stock image, Jayne Wright

The Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill scraps the existing three-year time limit on personal injury cases for survivors of childhood abuse up to 1964.

Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Annabelle Ewing, said the Bill would “strengthen access to justice” and recognises that the impact of child abuse can prevent those abused from seeking justice for several years.

She said: “It is important for all of society, not least the justice system, to recognise the reasons why people do not come forward to tell of the harm done to them until many years later. We’ve been working to understand and remove the barriers preventing people from seeking justice and this is an important step.

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“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.”

The government has estimated that 2,200 cases could arise from the new law if it passed by parliament on Thursday but some MSPs believe this figure is conservative and the true number could be higher.

The legislation would fulfil a key recommendation from the Scottish Human Rights Commission’s consultation of survivors and others.

Other recommendations in the consultation included creating an inquiry into the abuse in of children in care which is currently ongoing.