“Floodgate” of Sexual Abuse Claims to Open in U.K.

by John McKiggan

The House of Lords decision extending time limits for filing sexual abuse claims that I posted about yesterday is likely to open the “floodgates” to hundreds of historical sexual abuse claims, according to an article today in the Evening Gazette.

The story reports that:

A landmark legal ruling has opened the floodgates to one of the biggest claims of alleged sexual abuse in history.

The Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough is set to be sued by 140 men over alleged physical and sexual abuse suffered while in care.

The House of Lords decision gives broad discretion to judges to allow historical claims for sexual abuse, even when time limits for filing the claims have passed.

The ruling appears to go even further than the historic decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in M.K. v. M.H. which ruled that historical sexual abuse claims, although subject to limitations legislation, did not accrue until the plaintiff was reasonably capable of discovering the wrongful nature of the defendant’s acts and the nexus between those acts and the plaintiff’s injuries.

The Court clarified that the “reasonable discoverability rule” means that in cases of historical sexual abuse, the limitations period should begin to run only when the plaintiff has a substantial awareness of the harm and its likely cause.

The House of Lords decision means that the courts in the U.K. have gone even further than the courts in Canada and the United States to protect the rights of victims of childhood sexual abuse.

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