A Change in the Law
In a recent landmark ruling, five law lords swept away the previous bar on historic claims being brought for sexual assault. Before, victims were precluded by law from starting a claim for damages more than six years after an attack or, in child abuse cases, more than six years after reaching majority at age 18. Claimants can now commence a case for compensation any number of years after an attack – provided a court considers that a fair trial is still possible.
The ruling has much wider implications. From now on, the overriding question for a judge will be whether it is still possible to determine “whether the abuse took place”, rather than whether there was systemic negligence. This paves the the way for thousands of past victims of child sexual abuse to bring adult legal actions – not only against their attackers but also against local authorities (as the employers of their attackers) if they were children in care at the time of an attack.
What Survivors Need To Do
Survivors wishing to seek financial compensation through the law courts can obtain further advice and information from any of the following:
- CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau) offers free legal aid
- CICA (Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority) – www.cica.gov.uk (0800 358 3601)
- Victim Support – www.victimsupport.org.uk (0845 3030900)
- Rights of Women – www.rightsofwomen.org.uk (020 7251 8887) – their website information is also relevant for men.
- Bar Pro Bono Unit (020 7611 9500) – Barristers offering free services.
- Police stations also have CICA (Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority) application forms.
Information correct at 4 February 2008
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