The Scottish Government has now confirmed that it will legislate to remove limitation from all claims for damages for any historic child abuse. The Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill removes the usual three year limitation period from this category claim for anyone who was under the age of 18 when the abuse took place. Abuse includes sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse and neglect.

This legislation is of importance to any organisation or individual who might face allegations of historic child abuse in any setting. The draft bill can be accessed here.

The Bill allows claimants whose claims were previously rejected by a court because they were time barred to raise their claims again provided that doing so does not breach the defender's convention rights.The retrospective nature of the proposed legislation is of significance to organisations (and their insurers) who thought that the potential for claims had long since passed because of existing time bar rules.

However, the new law won't apply to abuse that took place before 26 September 1964.The right to raise an action in relation to such abuse prescribed by virtue of the Prescription and Limitation (Scotland) Act 1984 and is therefore extinguished.

The Bill is likely to come into force later this year.


Laura McMillan

Partner & Director of Advocacy