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14/03/16 12:30

Removing time bar

Supporting child abuse survivors who are seeking damages.

A draft Bill which removes a barrier on survivors who were abused as children seeking civil damages in court has been published.

The Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill would remove the three-year time limit, also known as ‘time-bar’, on survivors, who were abused on or after 26th of September 1964, seeking damages in the civil court.

The draft legislation is part of the Scottish Government’s wider commitment to adult survivors of child abuse to fulfil the recommendations of the Scottish Human Rights Commission Inter-action plan.

Extensive consultation with survivors, supporters and other groups has helped to shape the draft Bill which will remove the three year limitation period for all cases of child abuse irrespective of where abuse took place. The draft Bill also sets out circumstances for cases which have not succeeded in court due to time bar being applied to be raised again.

Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Paul Wheelhouse, unveiled the draft Bill at a visit to the Moira Anderson Foundation in Airdrie today where he met survivors and volunteers. One of the survivors he met was actor, Dr Matthew McVarish, who walked 10,000 miles around Europe to raise awareness of child abuse issues.

Before the publication of the draft Bill the Minister met with a number of the key representatives of survivor groups to explain how their input into the consultation informed the draft Bill and to get their initial views.

Mr Wheelhouse said: “It has been humbling to meet today with survivors and members of the Moira Anderson Foundation who provide such vital support to children and adults who have suffered abuse.”

“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.”

“I would like to thank all survivors and their supporters whose views helped us to shape this Bill. I know how difficult it has been for many to reopen such difficult memories to help shape our understanding and my colleagues and I am extremely grateful for the insight that survivors have shared with us. 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.”

Sandra Brown OBE, founder of the Moira Anderson Foundation, said:

“We greatly welcome and congratulate the Scottish Government for their commitment to removing time bar. We see the draft Bill, as well as the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, as huge steps forward for survivors of child abuse.”

Dr McVarish said:

“The abolition of this limitation is long overdue but another positive step by the Scottish Government in supporting our many survivors and recognising the immeasurable impact sexual abuse in childhood has on individuals, well into their adult life.”

Scotland is one of the only countries in the world with dedicated support for survivors of in care abuse. Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, Jamie Hepburn, announced today that a consortium of three organisations – Penumbra, Health in Mind and the Mental Health Foundation – has been successful in securing the tender to administer the Survivor Support Fund for survivors who were abused as children while in care. The consortium is supported by a further 26 organisations that provide services for survivors throughout Scotland.

With a total budget of £13.5 million over the next five years, the Support fund will offer more personalised, specialist services across the country. The consortium will work with survivors and the organisations that support them to expand and enhance existing support. We are working closely with the current provider to ensure that in care survivors who are currently receiving support continue to have their needs met and are able to engage with and access additional services through the Support Fund should they choose to do so.

Notes to editors

More information on the draft Bill publication: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/03/7578/downloads

The Moira Anderson Foundation is a national charity dedicated to supporting children and adults affected by childhood sexual abuse. For more information, visit: http://www.moiraanderson.org/

Under the existing law, a person who wishes to raise a personal injury action for damages must do so generally within three years of the date on which the injuries were sustained. In practice, as the law on limitation currently applies, this means that a survivor of child abuse is required to raise civil action by the date of their 19th birthday (three years after they reach the age of 16).

The Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill amends section 17 of the Prescription and Limitation (Scotland) Act 1973 (“the 1973 Act”). It removes the three year limitation period for personal injuries actions resulting from abuse when the person who sustained the injuries was a child at the time of the abuse. It applies to abuse occurring before and after commencement of the provisions.

Applications for cases which have not succeeded in court due to time bar to be raised again will be subject to the court’s consideration of Convention rights

The Bill contains 4 sections. Sections 1 and 2 comprise the main provisions of the Bill. Those provisions deal with the removal of 3 year limitation period in certain actions including in relation to rights of action accruing before commencement. Section 3 deals with commencement and section 4 sets out the short title of the Act. The draft Bill and explanatory notes can be found through http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/03/7578/downloads