Support needed for abuse survivors if they go to court, Faculty says

28 Feb


The Faculty has added its voice to calls for support for survivors of abuse who may choose to go to court under proposed changes in the law.

The Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill aims to exempt cases seeking damages for historical childhood abuse from the general three-year period within which a personal injury action must be raised.

Removing the time-bar is likely to increase the number of court actions, the Faculty said in written evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee.

Laura Dunlop, QC, appeared before the committee to give oral evidence and she agreed with witnesses from the Law Society of Scotland and the Scottish Human Rights Commission that support should be available for those who chose the litigation path.

“Any lawyer who has practised in reparation for any length of time can think of examples of people whose experience of trying to get damages for an injury they have suffered has not been a success,” Ms Dunlop said.

“You end up thinking that the process has done the person more harm than good, and I very much agree that litigation is not the right solution for everybody.

“There are two areas where I think support is necessary – at selecting which form of remedy is suitable for the individual and, if litigation is chosen, as they undergo that experience.”

In an initial response to a Scottish Government consultation, the Faculty opposed the ending of the time-bar, saying it believed that any waiver of the limitation regime ought to be made on a case by case basis, as at present.

Ms Dunlop told the committee members that things had moved on, and that “the Bill is now here.”

She added: “The Faculty offers whatever comments it can to attempt to make the Bill as good as it can be. From a law reform point of view, we welcome the Bill because it is quite short and clarificatory. Subject to one or two points of detail, the position is clearer than it has been until now.” 

The evidence session can be viewed at