Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry and Limitation Bill – an update

As we reported on this blog on 28 July 2016, Lady Smith, a Scottish Judge since 2001 and, from 2011, a Scottish Appeal Court Judge, is the new Chair of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry. Unlike the English and Welsh Inquiry, the present remit of the Scottish Inquiry excludes non-State institutions. Hence, for instance, those alleging abuse in religious settings in the community, in contrast to State-provided care institutions, are not covered at present by the Scottish Inquiry.

Pressure is, though, building to extend the Scottish Inquiry’s scope. Alan Draper, spokesman for In Care Abuse Survivors (Incas) was reported, in the 31 August 2016 Herald newspaper, as saying that “we put forward (to the Deputy First Minister of Scotland, John Swinney) a powerful argument about extending (the scope of the Scottish Inquiry).” He adds, though, that he is “not hopeful”.

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The continuing complication of Prescription in non-recent Scottish abuse claims

A bill proposed by the Scottish Government seeks to remove limitation in child abuse claims. We have previously commented on some of the issues which arise one of which is in connection with prescription.

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Scottish Abuse Inquiry Call for Evidence

On 23 March Susan O’Brien QC, Chair of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry formally called for evidence. She began by saying that the priority was to listen to people who were abused when they were under 18 in residential or foster care. The terms of reference have been set by the Scottish Government and to counter criticism of the limits of the scope of the Inquiry she reinforced that they are doing what they have been asked to. The terms of reference say the Inquiry will provide an opportunity for public acknowledgement of the suffering of victims of abuse, and provide a forum for them to be heard. Evidence will be a matter of national public record.  It is up to witnesses to decide whether they give evidence or not.

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