A consultation is underway to remove the three year limitation period imposed on survivors of child abuse in Scotland. Under the existing rules any action must be brought within three years of the injury or within three years of the survivor becoming aware of the injury.
Many survivors who have been abused at a young age feel too ashamed to come forward; some fear they will not be believed. It can take some survivors of abuse decades to gather the strength to face their abuser.
The courts in England and Wales recognise the difficulties faced by historic child abuse survivors and can use their discretion when deciding whether or not a claim may be brought out of the three year time limit. Survivors of abuse in Scotland seeking to bring a claim are not awarded the same grace.
Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs Paul Wheelhouse said:
“For survivors, this time bar is a significant hurdle which can deny them access to justice and can place added stress on people who are already living with the consequences of the abuse they have suffered.
Those who have experienced violent and sexual abuse as a child should not have to demonstrate to the court that they have a right to raise litigation before their case can proceed.’’
The consultation which began on 25 June 2015 is set to run for a period of twelve weeks. If implemented, those who have suffered historic abuse in Scotland will no longer be prevented from access to justice and penalised for not bringing their claim within the three year limitation period.