Legal Information Centre

01 February 2008 by Mary Heaney

Landmark ruling paves way for rape compensation claims

A landmark decision in the House of Lords means that victims of sexual assault could sue their attackers outside the time limit.
 A landmark ruling by five law lords means that victims of sexual assault in the past could sue their attackers.


In the particular case, a women - known only as Mrs A - won the right to seek compensation from the man who sexually assaulted her over two decades ago. While in prison, the man won over £7 million on the National Lottery.


In the past,  victims of crime  have been prevented by law from bringing a claim more than six years after an attack. In child abuse cases, the cut off date for claims was six years after the victim turned 18.


However, the law lords removed this time limit, which means that many people could sue their attackers or local councils if they were in care at the time of the incident.


In a statement read outside the court, lawyer  Sandra Baker, Mrs A said: "I am both delighted and relieved that my appeal to the House of Lords has been successful and that I have succeeded in changing a law which will provide others in the future with a means of achieving justice.


"It was this, rather than financial gain, which motivated me to begin this process two years ago."


"It is to be hoped that my claim for damages … will now be brought to a speedy resolution without the need for me to endure further protracted litigation." 



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