It can take many years for someone who has suffered sexual abuse as a child to tell a soul about what happened, let alone consider either reporting the abuse to the police or contemplating a compensation claim. This can be because of feelings of fear, shame, guilt and deep anxiety about the possibility of not being believed. But survivors of historical child sexual abuse are expected to overcome all these hurdles to find their voices and then find the courage to make their claims within three years after they reach the age of 18.
The law must recognise that these claims will almost always be brought late. Judges do have some discretion to allow cases to run after the time limit, but the uncertainty about getting the case heard can make things too overwhelming for a survivor. Many simply cannot face the fight and give up on pursuing the compensation which can help put their lives back on track before they ever really start.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has looked at this issue and is due to publish its final report next year. I hope that its recommendations include the abolition of this exceptionally unfair time limit.
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers