The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee is seeking views on the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill.
The Bill was introduced by the Scottish Government to the Scottish Parliament on 16 November 2016. The Bill aims to improve access to justice for survivors of childhood abuse. The Bill removes the current three year limitation period in actions seeking damages in respect of personal injury where the action relates to abuse when the person bringing the action was a child at the time of the abuse.
The Prescription and Limitation (Scotland) Act 1973 sets out a three year period in which, as a general rule, a civil court action for personal injuries must be raised (under the law relating to “limitation of actions”). The Bill seeks to exempt cases of historical childhood abuse from this three year time bar.
The key issues are set out below. Responses should address all or any of the following points in turn—
1. Do you agree with the proposal in the Bill to remove cases relating to historical childhood abuse from the limitation regime set out in the 1973 Act?
2. What will the impact of the new exemption on i) victims of historical childhood abuse who could bring claims; ii) the individuals, organisations and insurers who might be involved in defending claims; and iii) the Scottish courts?
3. The Scottish Government consulted on whether the proposed exemption in the Bill should cover all children or be restricted to those abused in a care setting. The Bill takes the wider approach – do you agree with its proposed scope in this regard?
4. Do you agree with the definitions of “child” and “abuse” found in the proposed new section 17A (2) of the 1973 Act (which would be inserted by section 1 of the Bill)?
5. The exemption in the Bill does not just apply to entirely new claims. Section 1 of the Bill (which would insert a new section 17C into the 1973 Act) allows claims previously raised but found to be time-barred to be raised again under the new regime. What are your views on this aspect of the Bill?
6. Section 1 of the Bill (which would insert a new section 17D into the 1973 Act) empowers the court to dismiss a case in two specific sets of circumstances. These are where the defender can demonstrate either that i) it would not be possible for a fair hearing to take place; or ii) the defender would be subject to “substantial prejudice” if the case did proceed. What are your views on the proposed new section 17D?
The Committee intends to take evidence between January and March 2017 and report to Parliament in Spring
How to submit written evidence
Before making a submission, please read our Policy on Treatment of Written Evidence by Subject or Mandatory Committees.
You may wish to respond to any or all of the points above. Evidence should be reasonably brief and typewritten in Word format (preferably no more than 4-6 sides of A4 in total).
The deadline for receipt of written submissions is Wed 11 January 2017. Owing to the timescale normally required for the processing and analysis of evidence, late submissions will only be accepted with the advance agreement of the clerk.
The Committee prefers to receive written submissions electronically. These should be sent to:
You may also send a hard copy of written submissions to:
We welcome written evidence in any language.