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No contest at stage 1 for Limitation (Childhood Abuse) Bill

28 April 2017

The bill to remove the three year time limit on survivors of childhood abuse seeking civil damages in court was accpeted without a vote at the end of its first parliamentary debate.

If enacted, the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill will remove that time limit for any cases arising from abuse on or after 26 September 1964.

Ahead of the debate, Minister for Community Safety & Legal Affairs, Annabelle Ewing, commented: “Survivors of childhood abuse have worked with the Scottish Human Rights Commission on acknowledgment and accountability for survivors. Removing the three year limit on seeking civil damages was one of their top priorities, and I am delighted to be guiding through Parliament legislation that will not only allow survivors’ voices to be heard, but also help them address the wrongs done to them.

“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 must remove barriers to survivors pursuing civil damages. That is why we are removing the current three year limitation period in these cases. That is also why the bill will enable cases which have been unsuccessful because of the current rules on time bar to be brought to court again and enable the widest possible circumstances of abuse to be considered."

During the debate Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur said he had reservations about the bill permitting the reopening of cases in which decree of absolvitor had been pronounced, as possibly setting a dangerous precedent. Ms Ewing did not share the concern, replying: "The way in which the bill has been drafted clearly sets forth the special justification requirement that has to be adduced in order to displace certain elements that would otherwise be applicable. Having carefully considered the matter, I can assure the member that I am satisfied that the bill’s provisions are ECHR compatible."

Click here to view the debate.

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