Duty of care – abuse –
vicarious liability – limitation
High Court, Queen’s
Bench Division: Globe J
19 June 2015
issues on limitation, the defendants were held liable to pay damages to the
claimant for the historical abuse she had suffered.
claimant sought damages for sexual abuse that she was subjected to as a young child.
Damages were agreed, subject to liability.
The claimant claimed
the defendants, the first of which was the over-arching body of the second and
third, had failed to safeguard her from abuse.
Now an adult, the first
issue was whether the claimant’s claim was time-barred by virtue of the
Limitation Act (1980). The judge found that the claimant could not have known
that her abuse was attributable to an act or omission constituting negligence
on the part of the defendants. She therefore lacked the required knowledge for
limitation purposes until such time as her solicitors were served with the
defendants’ witness evidence in 2014. The claim could therefore proceed.
In the alternative, the
defendants argued that the delay in commencing proceedings had adversely
affected the cogency of the evidence to the extent that a fair trial would not
be possible. Exercising its discretion under s 33, the court dismissed the
argument, noting that there was always going to be difficulty with the evidence
as is usual in historical sex abuse cases.
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