A v Iorworth Hoare [2008] EWHC 1573 (QB)

In a landmark House of Lords ruling earlier this year it was decided that s.11 of the Limitation Act 1980 applied to acts of deliberate assault, and therefore the 3 year limitation period could be extended at the court’s discretion under s.33. Following the ruling, A’s claim was remitted back to the High Court for determination of the issue as to whether the court could exercise its discretion under s.33 of the Act.

A had been subjected to serious sexual assault by the Defendant in a public place. The Defendant was subsequently convicted for rape and sentenced to life imprisonment. At the time A successfully obtained £5,000 compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. She suffered PTSD following the attack. Sixteen years after he was convicted, the Defendant won £7million on the lottery whilst on day release on licence from prison. A learnt of the win and brought a claim for damages for assault resulting in psychiatric injury.

The court held that it was appropriate to exercise discretion under s.33, despite the very long delay in issuing the claim. The Defendant might have wished to adduce expert medical evidence as to causation that would have been available had the claim been made contemporaneously, however his criminal conviction for the serious offence meant there were no grounds to dispute the factual basis of the tort alleged. The reason for the delay was that the Defendant was in prison and had no money to satisfy any judgment that might have been made against him before the lottery win.