Complex Personal Injury, Medical Law, Other Areas of Law, Property, Chancery & Commercial, Public Authority Liability
Limitation of action - Court's power to override time limit in personal injury claim.

In EB v Haughton [2011] EWHC 279 (QB) (hearing date 17 February 2011) the Claimant claimed damages for personal injuries caused by sexual abuse over a period of about one year in 1993. She relied on section 33 of the Limitation Act and argued that (1) she was a minor for a part of the period (2) her claim had been statute barred until the decision in A v Hoare [2008] All ER (D) 251 (Jan). The Defendant countered that (1) there were no good reasons for the delay (2) facing stale allegations more than seven years after the primary limitation period expired amounted to prejudice. Slade J. (1) held in all the circumstances the limitation period should be disapplied (2) found the allegations of sexual abuse proved (3) concluded that “the principal cause of and trigger for” the Claimant’s mental health problems had been the sexual abuse (4) awarded the Claimant general damages of £28,000.


The case confirms the court’s unfettered discretion to allow a claim to proceed notwithstanding the expiry of the relevant limitation period where it is equitable to do so. Further, in determining the level of general damages the judge considered and gave weight to the JSB Guidelines on psychiatric damage in particular the guidance to take into account “(vii)(a) whether the injury results from sexual and/or physical abuse and/or breach of trust; (b) if so, the nature of the relationship between the victim and abuser, the nature of the abuse, its duration and the symptoms caused by it”.

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