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Legal time bar lifted for childhood abuse survivors 

Victims' group welcome extension of civil damages deadline from three to 53 years.

Justice:  New act will apply to abuse cases since September 1964.
Justice: New act will apply to abuse cases since September 1964.

A long-standing time-bar that stopped survivors of childhood abuse in Scotland being able to pursue civil damages after three years has been abolished.

The introduction of new legislation means victims no longer face the barrier, which requires personal injury actions to be made within a certain period after the incident.

It has been described as a means to ensure amends are made for the "grave failings of the past".

Community safety and legal affairs minister Annabelle Ewing said: "Child abuse is the most horrific betrayal of our young people and, even where such crimes were committed decades ago, we will do all we can to help survivors get the justice they deserve.

"This legal milestone would not have happened but for the courage of many adult survivors whose persistence and dedication have shone a light on the dark realities of child abuse.

"Through their brave testimonies they have made clear the great hurt and damage caused by the very individuals and institutions who should have cared for them."

She added: "This removal of the civil time-bar underlines the government's commitment to ensuring Scotland is beginning to make amends for the grave failings of the past."

'We're over the moon. It's something survivors have been fighting, a lot of them, for most of their lives.'
Janine Rennie, CEO of Wellbeing Scotland

The Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Act 2017 will apply to civil legal actions for damages resulting from child abuse since September 26, 1964.

Ewing, who took the legislation through the Scottish Parliament, said the move was part of wider action to support survivors of childhood abuse.

Other moves include the national survivor support fund, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry and an ongoing consultation into a potential financial compensation scheme.

Some have hit out over the legislation doesn't apply to "pre-64 cases".

Janine Rennie, chief executive of Wellbeing Scotland, said: "We're over the moon. It's something survivors have been fighting, a lot of them, for most of their lives.

"It's a huge step forward for survivors.

"But it's important to mention the pre-64 cases, a lot of them are very unwell and elderly. We can't forget the ones that can't achieve justice."

Ministers indicated to parliament during the passage of the legislation that it has not been possible to remove the different time-bar rule applicable to cases of abuse that occurred prior to September 26, 1964.

Future Pathways, Scotland's in-care survivor support fund, has been ensuring the processes for providing support to older survivors is prioritised.

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