On 9 March 2018, the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill, which we covered in our 12 February 2018 blog, became an Act of the Scottish Parliament upon the grant of Royal Assent. Its provisions will be brought into force at a later date by Scottish ministerial regulations. Continue reading
The Scottish Government has announced its intention to bring the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Act 2017 into force in October 2017.
The Abolition Bill became an Act of the Scottish Parliament on the grant of Royal Assent on 28 July 2017 but regulations by Scottish Ministers are needed to bring its provisions into force.
Once implemented, the Act will retrospectively abolish limitation in claims for personal injury, whether physical or psychological or both, caused by childhood abuse.
On account of a quirk of the Scots Law on Prescription, the Act will only be of relevance to abuse which took place on or after 26 September 1964.
Frank Hughes and Siobhan Kelly, Partners, BLM Glasgow
The costs associated with funding inquiries are not usually the main focus when an inquiry is set up; attention is given to the scope of the investigation and how best this can be achieved through the Terms of Reference. However as inquiries are funded by the public purse, pursuant to the Inquiries Act 2005 (sections 39-40), and in light of the current number of national inquiries addressing a range of topics, knowledge and interest in the costs involved has grown as the public focus on whether such inquiries provide value for money.
On 28 July 2017, the Bill to retrospectively abolish limitation in cases of childhood abuse received Royal Assent. The Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Act 2017 is now, therefore, on the statute book.
The grant of Royal Assent does not, though, bring the provisions of the Act into force. Subsequent regulations by Scottish Ministers will do that. Present indications suggest that those may be produced this Autumn.
Written by Frank Hughes and Siobhan Kelly, partners at BLM
The third and final legislative stage of the Bill to retrospectively abolish limitation for cases of personal injury arising from childhood abuse took place in the Chamber of the Scottish Parliament on 22 June 2017.
A proposed amendment to require Scottish Ministers to prepare a financial report on the likely impact on public bodies and their ability to meet any obligations arising from the retrospective provisions of the Bill was rejected.
Following that rejection, the Bill was unanimously passed. Royal Assent to the Bill is now anticipated, whereupon it will become an Act of the Scottish Parliament. Its provisions will thereafter come into force by way of Scottish ministerial regulations.
Frank Hughes and Siobhan Kelly, partners, BLM
Stage two of the three-stage legislative progress of the Bill to retrospectively abolish limitation for childhood abuse cases was completed on 23 May 2017, after the Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament considered proposed amendments. We summarise those and the Justice Committee’s decisions on them, as follows:
- Definition of “abuse”: the Justice Committee agreed, unanimously, to an amendment to include, as an explicit part of the present non-exhaustive definition, “abuse which takes the form of neglect”.
- Requirement for a report on resources: the Justice Committee rejected a proposed amendment that would have required Scottish Ministers to prepare a financial report on the likely impact on public bodies and their ability to meet any obligations arising from the prospective legislation.
Separately, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has published more detail on phase one of its public inquiry hearings. Those will be held between 31 May and 12 July 2017. The agenda for the first week, 31 May – 2 June comprises: opening statements from a wider group of organisations than those presently designated as “core participants” in the Inquiry, followed by expert evidence on background and contextual research.
The opening statements will be heard from survivors groups, Quarriers, Barnardos and a host of Roman Catholic religious orders and governing institutions as well as the Church of Scotland.
Written by Frank Hughes and Siobhan Kelly, partners at BLM
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.
The Scottish Parliament has confirmed that it will debate the Limitation Abolition Bill, at Stage 1, in the afternoon of Thursday 27 April.
In other news, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, whose cost from its set-up on 1 October 2015 to 31 March 2017 has recently been confirmed at over £5.7m, has now set the timetable for Phase 1 of its Public Hearings. Commencing on 31 May there are evidence sessions scheduled to 9 June covering: Continue reading
The first part of the first phase of public hearings at the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) will start on 31 May and end no later than 20 July. The second part of that first phase will resume in Autumn 2017.
The SCAI was set up on 1 October 2015, with a remit to report within four years on abuse of children in care for the period within living memory to 17 December 2014. The inquiry is concerned not only with in-care abuse which took place in Scotland but also abuse of those who, as children, were migrated from Scotland.
The various inquiries connected with sexual abuse of children have now had a period of making progress. Recent and expected developments are summarised below.
Independent Jersey Care Inquiry
The final report from the Jersey inquiry was due to be available within the first quarter of 2017. However, it has recently been announced that publication will be delayed for a short period. This is due to some new information being made available to the panel in relation to Phase 3 of the enquiry dealing with recommendations for the future of childrens’ care in Jersey. A revised publication date has yet to be confirmed.
The first hearings in the Children Overseas – Child Migration investigation have been held. A number of child migrant witnesses gave oral evidence along with the Inquiry appointed experts. The organisations involved in child migration will give their evidence at a hearing starting on 10 July. A further preliminary hearing will be held on 9 May.
The Victims & Survivors Consultative Panel (VSCP) has published revised Terms of Reference. The Panel has seven members who will advise the Inquiry on its engagement with victims and survivors; its communication with the public; share their expertise and knowledge in developing the work of the Inquiry; and advice on the formulation of recommendations. The VSCP has published a report on its work to date.
A second preliminary hearing in the Accountability & Reparations Investigation will be held on 28 March. There are five case studies within that investigation and a timetable is anticipated for evidence and hearings in those five case studies.
The Department of Sociology at Lancaster University has been commissioned by the Research Project to prepare a rapid evidence assessment of what is known about the characteristics and vulnerabilities of victims of online-facilitated child sexual abuse and exploitation. Anyone wishing to contribute material to this research is requested to provide materials by 28 April 2017.
Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry
The SCAI has now published a number of administrative guides to explain how it will operate. These include protocols for the provision of witness statements and other evidence and for anonymity and other restriction orders. Factsheets explaining what the SCAI will do when it is told about abuse and disclosure of allegations have also been produced.
Royal Commission, Australia
As noted in our earlier blog the RC is producing many publications as it moves to its final report. In the last two weeks it has published the following:
- A research report which considers the recruitment and support of carer in out-of-home care which includes foster care, kinship care and residential care settings
- A research report which looked at the current services and facilities focused on child sexual abuse prevention. This concluded that there was a lack of co-ordination between the various organisations working in this area.
Written by Paula Jefferson, partner and abuse claims expert at BLM