The latest from the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) has added a further ten institutions to the list of establishments under investigation, taking the total number under investigation to 96.

Four young offenders institutions are among the ten now added along with three local authority establishments, a religious school, an independent school and an industrial school, which became an “Approved” and then a “List D” school.

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Scottish judicial awards for childhood abuse

Very few cases of awards of personal injuries damages for abuse have been reported in recent years in Scotland. It is clear this is now changing with the effects of the retrospective abolition of limitation now being seen. What is noteworthy too are substantial damage awards now being made and the significant impact on such awards from judicial interest being added for many years.

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Non-Disclosure Agreements in Scotland

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) were originally used to keep commercial business information and trade secrets confidential.

In more recent years, the use of NDAs to try to silence allegations of abuse and harassment has generated significant publicity. There is no sign of that controversy abating.

Earlier this month, the Arbitration service Acas published guidance to firms and workers about NDAs, including how to avoid misuse. The point is made that NDAs cannot prevent an individual from reporting wrongdoing in the public interest, known as making a protected disclosure or ‘whistleblowing’. This could include disclosing a criminal offence, dangers to health and safety, or failure to comply with a legal obligation. NDAs also cannot prevent an individual from taking a matter to an employment tribunal. The advice given by Acas to employees is to consult a trade union or lawyer when considering signing an NDA.

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Scottish claims and litigation

In recent blogs, we have considered the Scottish Government’s plan for a statutory redress scheme. One of the evolving issues is whether engagement with the statutory scheme should be to the exclusion of a claimant’s ability to issue civil court proceedings. Scottish Government is committed to establishing the legislative framework for a redress scheme before the end of March 2021.

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Update on the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry

On 16 January 2020, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) published its costs from its inception in October 2015 to the end of 2019. Cost in that period was £30,049,590.

SCAI’s work continues. Phase 5 public hearings, on investigations into the abuse of children whose departure from Scotland to countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand was part of child migration programmes, are due to resume in February 2020. This phase started on 3 December 2019 with evidence being heard that month by video-link from witnesses who were unable to travel to the inquiry.

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Update on Scottish Redress and immediate changes to the Advance Payment Scheme

Readers of this blog will be aware that the Scottish Government has committed to establishing a statutory redress scheme before the end of March 2021.

A pre-legislative public consultation on financial redress for historical child abuse in care opened on the 2 September 2019 and closed on the 25 November 2019.

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Scottish limitation litigation on the ‘fair hearing’ defence

The Limitation (Childhood Abuse) Scotland Act 2017 retrospectively abolished the three year ‘time bar’ rule for personal injury claims arising from childhood abuse in Scotland but retained defences in the Act on ‘fair hearing’ and on ‘substantial prejudice’.

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Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry publishes further findings

Today, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) published its third case study findings.

The latest findings follow evidence heard between October 2018 and February 2019 on residential care establishments run by three voluntary providers (Quarriers, Aberlour Child Care Trust and Barnardo’s). This covers the period between 1921 and 1991. A link to the findings is here.         .

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Scottish Government launches outline of and public consultation on financial redress for child abuse

As noted in our blog of 2 September, the Scottish Government launched a pre-legislative public consultation on financial redress for historical child abuse in care.

This is one of two blogs which looks in more detail at the consultation. This blog looks at the underlying general principles of the proposed statutory financial redress scheme and our next blog will look at the proposed payments, the evidence required to support them and how they will be assessed.

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Scotland Considers Creation of Sexual Offences Court

A Scottish High Court judge, Lord Matthews has stated that Scotland is considering the creation of a dedicated sexual offences court.

The number of sex crimes being prosecuted in the Scottish courts has increased massively over the last decade. Despite that, conviction rates remain significantly lower than other crimes.  In 2017/18 the acquittal rate for rape was 55% and was 33% for sexual assault, in comparison with an overall acquittal rate for all crimes of 6%.

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