Concern over cost of ending limits on child abuse claims
Justice: Victims hit back after police and insurers highlight likely impact
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