One of the UK’s leading experts on child abuse, Manchester-based Peter Garsden, today welcomed a House of Lords judgement which he believes will revolutionise the law on child abuse compensation claims.

Previously, victims of abuse were restricted by a time limit in which they could bring a claim against their abuser.  The time limit for most types of action was six years from the date when the damage was done and in the case of victims abused in childhood, the period in which they could bring a claim against their abuser was six years from their 18th birthday.

Following the judgement the law will now become less rigid making it a lot easier for survivors of rape and assault to bring civil claims for compensation against their abuser many years after the event.  Cases are less likely to fail because they are out of time.

One of the cases, which led to today’s judgement, followed an appeal in the case of a woman in Leeds who in 1988 was attacked by Iowarth Hoare.  He was jailed for life in 1989.  The woman did not pursue a claim for damages against him at the time because he had no assets.

In 2004, while on day release from prison, Mr Hoare bought a ticket for the national lottery, which won him £7 Million.  On hearing of his new wealth, the woman attempted to bring a claim against him.  In the view of the court, she could not take action against Mr Hoare, who has now been released from prison, because the time between her injuries and the commencement of proceedings exceeded the limitation period.

The Lords realised that English law is far less generous to the victims of sexual assault than the laws of most Commonwealth countries and that English law ought to be brought into line with other jurisdictions.  In some provinces of Canada there is no time limit in cases of sexual assault at all.

Commenting on the changes Peter Garsden, Managing Partner of Abney Garsden McDonald Solicitors said: ” The law has been in an unsatisfactory mess for some years now.  These recent decisions have brought much needed clarity for lawyers, and justice for survivors.”