December 12, 2018

Floodgates for historic abuse claims in Scotland could open

New financial redress scheme and qualified one-way cost shifting will boost numbers.

2018 was the first full year following the removal of time-bar for historic child abuse claims in Scotland. While the number of claims received has had peaks and troughs, it is likely that 2019 will be the year in which the floodgates truly open.

Historical abuse remains high in the public consciousness since the change in the law, through high-profile cases, continued media interest and the long-running Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry. However, two other factors are likely to drive an increase in claims in the coming year.

The first is qualified one-way costs shifting (QOCS). Though the legislation introducing QOCS was passed in May 2018, it is likely to be mid-2019 before the new rules are ready. This improved access to justice for claimants will undoubtedly see an increase in claims as funding barriers are lowered.

Secondly, the Scottish Government has indicated its intention to introduce a financial redress scheme for survivors of in-care historic abuse. The terms of the scheme are not finalised but the government states that care institutions will be expected to contribute. Experience from the Australian and Irish schemes indicates this is unlikely to offer the same levels of compensation as litigation, and the numbers of claimants is likely to be far higher than predicted. Survivors who obtain redress under the scheme may well also seek further damages through the courts. 

Care institutions, religious bodies, schools, local authorities, charities and their insurers can all expect another year of increased claim numbers.

You can read the rest of our insurance predictions here.