In November last year, we issued this update regarding the progress of the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill through the legislative process. During its passage through Parliament, the Bill was amended quite significantly before receiving Royal Assent on 28 July 2017. Section 1 of the Act will come into force on 4 October 2017. The text of the enacted Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Act 2017 (“the Act”) can be accessed here.
As anticipated, Section 1 of the Act removes the three-year limitation period for personal injury claims resulting from child abuse. At the time of publishing our previous update the definition of “abuse” had been narrowed to include sexual abuse, physical abuse and emotional abuse only. This has since been amended so as to also include “abuse which takes the form of neglect”. Therefore the definition of abuse is wide.
Firms involved in defender work and insurance companies may look to use Section 17D, which allows a defender to argue that a claim should not proceed if it is not possible for a “fair hearing” to take place and / or that the defender would be “substantially prejudiced” by the proceedings. These terms are not specifically defined in the Act and are therefore left open to the courts’ interpretation.
There is potential for an influx of claims once the section is in force and the Civil Litigation (Expenses and Group Proceedings) (Scotland) Bill, which is currently before the Scottish Parliament, might have an impact on how these claims are handled. We will keep you updated on matters relating to the implementation of this Act.