Lawyers working with survivors of childhood sexual abuse are urging the Government to act now to make a key change to the law as recommended by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).
“Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week* serves as a timely reminder that the Government could and should abolish an unacceptable time limit imposed on survivors who wish to seek redress for often life-changing abuse,” said Kim Harrison of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).
“Survivors in England and Wales must bring their claims within three years of the abuse, or within three years of turning 18 if they were abused as a child,” she explained.
“The IICSA final report included a recommendation to remove the time limit here. There are many other jurisdictions which have already abolished the time limit, including Scotland, and with very good reason.
“Many survivors of childhood sexual abuse find it difficult to seek justice within the timeframe allowed by the law. Trauma, shame, mistrust in authorities, and fear are some of the very valid reasons why people hold back on speaking out, let alone take the step to seek justice,” Ms Harrison went on.
“The Government’s formal response to the inquiry is due by 20 April, but there is no reason why it cannot act now to recognise that abuse survivors are unique and almost always seek justice later than other injured people,” she said.
The IICSA panel undertook a far-reaching and lengthy investigation into historical sexual abuse in England and Wales, culminating in a raft of recommendations published in October 2022.