Yesterday, after Stage 1 Debate, the Scottish Parliament approved the motion “that the Parliament agrees to the general principles of the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill.”
For pre-1964 abuse survivors, who will not benefit from the Bill should it become an Act, the Scottish Government have committed to a formal process of consultation and engagement, led by CELCIS (Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland). This will be with relevant parties on the question of financial redress for in-care survivors, including redress for survivors abused prior to 1964.
Discussion on the detail of the Bill continues. For example, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs has committed to reflect carefully on the Justice Committee’s recommendation that ‘neglect’ be re-introduced as an explicit category of abuse in addition to the present non-exhaustive definition of abuse (as including sexual, physical and emotional). It is important to remember that, regardless of the ultimate definition of abuse in any Act, any such definition will serve only to allow certain categories of claims to overcome the limitation hurdle. Scots Law on personal injury is not changing and it will remain incumbent on survivors to prove, on the balance of probabilities, a duty existed, and its breach, and that injury, recognised in law, whether physical, psychological or both, was suffered in consequence of the abuse.
Safeguards for defenders in terms of ‘fair hearing’ and an assessment of ‘substantial prejudice’ remain in the present draft of the Bill.
The Bill now proceeds to Stage 2, of 3 stages, of the legislative process.
Frank Hughes and Siobhan Kelly, Partners, BLM