Duty of care – abuse – vicarious liability – limitation
High Court, Queen’s Bench Division: Globe J
19 June 2015
Notwithstanding issues on limitation, the defendants were held liable to pay damages to the claimant for the historical abuse she had suffered.
The 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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