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Non-recent and historic abuse

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A claimant has six years to claim for negligence, nuisance or a breach of duty from the time they suffer abuse. This is known as a ‘limitation period’.

The limitation period for personal injury claims is shorter and is normally three years. But if the injury, including sexual abuse, was suffered by a child, this period doesn’t start until the claimant turns eighteen.

However, there are some circumstances when the court may exercise its discretion to allow a personal injury or death claim to be brought after the limitation period. To do this, the court must first consider all the circumstances of the case, including the length of delay in starting proceedings and the reasons for that delay. The court must then consider whether or not there’s a just (fair) reason to justify not applying the normal limitation period to the case.

These powers allow the courts to ensure that, subject to the circumstances of the particular case, historic sexual abuse claims are not time-barred. This means it’s important that all records, documents and any other information concerning a potential claim for financial compensation relating to sexual abuse (or any other type of potential personal injury claim) are kept and stored appropriately for an indefinite period.

It’s important to note that in England and Wales there are no time limitations in relation to criminal offences.

Last reviewed: 15 June 2022

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This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 15 June 2022

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