Deadlines for making a childhood abuse claim

The deadline for making a childhood abuse claim is under review.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has been investigating institutional failures to protect children in England and Wales from sexual abuse. It has considered cases across various sectors including churches, schools, local authorities and the care sector with the aim of uncovering past abuses and improving future safeguarding practices.

In their final report, IICSA recommended that the law in relation to the deadline for making a childhood abuse claim to be abolished. Disappointingly the Ministry of Justice has currently ruled this out, though there is to be a consultation on this point.

A limitation deadline is the time limit by which a legal claim must be made. In England and Wales claims for events which happen in childhood should be made (ie court proceedings issued) by the person’s 21st birthday.

The court does have discretion to extend this time limit and considers a range of factors when exercising this power, including the length of the delay and what evidence is still available. Ultimately the court must decide whether it is still possible for there to be a fair trial and for the court to be able to get to the bottom of things and assess a claim fairly.

For very understandable reasons a huge number of survivors of childhood sexual abuse cannot come forward to talk about what they have endured until well into adulthood. The courts recognise this and allow claims to proceed out of time, but a change to the deadline for making a childhood abuse claim would remove the uncertainty.

Abuse lawyer Elizabeth Duncan says, “While the initial indications on this point from the MOJ are disappointing, survivors of childhood sexual abuse should still seek advice about bringing their claims and seeking justice. We have had a huge number of successful cases involving abuse that occurred many decades ago and are very experienced at successfully arguing that cases should still be allowed to proceed despite the passage of time”

Our experienced and compassionate abuse team offer a free confidential initial assessment so if you have been affected by childhood sexual abuse contact them to discuss your options. And because we work on a No Win, No Fee basis there is no reason to allow worries about legal costs deter you from seeking the justice you deserve.

Call us on freephone 0333 888 0445 or send an email to us at [email protected]

Deadlines for making a childhood abuse claim