The 'Lottery' of Limitation
From The Times 7/11/07:
The woman, known as Mrs A, should now be able to claim compensation for the attempted rape in Roundhay Park, Leeds, in 1988, her lawyers say.
Mrs A's attacker, Iorworth Hoare, originally from Seacroft, Leeds, had not been worth suing until he won £7 million on the Lotto while on day release from prison in 2004.
The law lords have indicated that they plan to allow an extension of the limitation period - enabling Mrs A and others to press for compensation, according to her lawyers.
The law lords had been planning to hear evidence from five different cases, but after hearing the key issue have indicated that they can reach their decision.
Although most claims for damages for physical or psychiatric injury now have an extendable three-year limitation period from the date of the claimant’s “knowledge”, claims for damages arising out of an intentional sexual assault have a non-extendable six-year limitation period from the date of the assault or the claimant’s 18th birthday, if that is later.
What’s interesting here is what the court will decide to do about the length of the period – what should it be extended to exactly? Should it mirror the Personal Injury principle and be extendable at the court’s discretion to 3 years from the cause of action or from the date of knowledge of the cause of action with the long stop of 15 years. And what torts exactly will be covered by this extension of the limitation rules? Will it extend to all the intentional torts and if so to the same extent? Let’s hope that these questions are at least summarily addressed by their lordships in their judgement.