Con­cern over cost of end­ing lim­its on child abuse claims

Jus­tice: Vic­tims hit back after po­lice and in­sur­ers high­light likely im­pact

The Press and Journal (Highlands & Islands) - - News -

The cost of re­mov­ing the time limit for vic­tims of child­hood abuse to seek civil dam­ages in court may have been un­der­es­ti­mated, MSPs have been told.

Po­lice Scot­land has warned the im­pact of the Lim­i­ta­tion ( Child­hood Abuse) ( Scot­land) Bill could be higher than ex­pected. Holy­rood’s jus­tice com­mit­tee is ex­am­in­ing the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion, which would re­move the cur­rent three-year time bar – or lim­i­ta­tion – for bring­ing a civil court claim for dam­ages in some cases of child­hood abuse.

Doc­u­ments pub­lished along­side the bill es­ti­mate the change in the law would re­sult in 2,200 claims in the courts ini­tially. Po­lice Scot­land re­it­er­ated its sup­port for the bill but added it es­ti­mated the force held at least 5,000 files dat­ing back to 1964 re­lat­ing to re­ports of child abuse and ne­glect “within an in­sti­tu­tion or care set­ting, or in­volv­ing a per­son of pub­lic promi­nence”.

The sub­mis­sion said the leg­is­la­tion was likely to have “sig­nif­i­cant hu­man and fi­nan­cial re­source im­pli­ca­tions” for the force­and a “far-reach­ing im­pact“on in­di­vid­u­als, groups and or­gan­i­sa­tions.

This was echoed by the As­so­ci­a­tion of Bri­tish In­sur­ers, which­said the 2,200 es­ti­mate “fails to take into ac­count the po­ten­tial ef­fect of the bill in en­cour­ag­ing more­cases to be brought or of pre­vi­ously heard cases to be res­ur­rected.”

“Min­is­ters seem at risk of con­sid­er­ably un­der­es­ti­mat­ing the to­tal num­ber of cases raised,” it said.

The in­sur­ers point out that Scot­tish judges cur­rently have the dis­cre­tion to set aside lim­i­ta­tion if they are per­suaded of the merit in hear­ing a claim of his­toric abuse. In­sur­ers also strongly op­pose a pro­vi­sion to al­low claims pre­vi­ously raised but found to be time- barred to be brought again, ar­gu­ing this woul­dun­der­minele­gal cer­tainty in Scot­land.

But Former Boys and Girls Abused in Quar­ri­ers Homes said: “The in­sur­ers area‘spe­cial in­ter­est’group and have demon­strated that they will re­sist any op­por­tu­nity to avoid li­a­bil­ity.

“All child­hood abuse cases should be given a fair and rea­son­able hear­ing.”

HOLY­ROOD: A new bill would re­move the time bar for bring­ing a dam­ages claim in some cases of child abuse

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