Sexual abuse claims

The following PI & Clinical Negligence practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Sexual abuse claims
  • Limitation issues
  • Claims against local authorities
  • Breach of statutory duty
  • Common law duty of care—direct duty
  • Common law duty of care—vicarious liability
  • Breach of duty
  • Non-delegable duty of care
  • Vicarious liability
  • Stage one
  • More...

Sexual abuse claims

Limitation issues

Claims for abuse are often presented many years after the events giving rise to them.

It is usual practice in cases involving allegations of sexual abuse for limitation to be tried as an issue at the same time as liability and causation in order to avoid the claimant having to give evidence twice.

Ultimately, a claim often comes down to the credibility of the witnesses and, in particular, of the claimant.

For further guidance, see Practice Note: The court’s power to extend the time limit—section 33 of the Limitation Act 1980—Physical/sexual abuse cases.

Claims against local authorities

In some cases, the question arises whether a local authority has a duty of care to a child such as where a child has been under a care order or where they have remained with abusive parents.

Breach of statutory duty

The scope for a victim of abuse to bring an action based solely on a breach of statutory duty appears to be very limited. In the case of X (minors) v Bedfordshire CC, the House of Lords decided:

  1. a breach of statutory duty does not by itself give rise to any private law cause of action

  2. but a private law cause of action may arise if, as a matter of construction, the statute imposed a duty for the protection of a limited class of the public and Parliament clearly intended

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