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Historic childhood abuse claims and limitation periods

Historical sexual abuse is the term used to describe abuse suffered by an individual whilst a child or young person under 18 years of age. It may be in many cases that the police were not involved at the time the crimes were committed but it is possible to raise a complaint and open up an investigation focusing on any available historical and perhaps more up to date witness evidence.

Be aware that crucial claim deadlines apply and the time allowed for making your compensation claim is very short. Generally you have 2 years from the date of the abuse (or last episode of abuse) or the date the matter was first reported to the police. If the case involves a victim who is still a child, they have until their 20th birthday to claim. Read our time limit case study examples which will help you understand the deadlines that apply for certain claims.


If you have been the victim of such abuse, you may be entitled to compensation. Call us to discuss your case today - 01423 593 002or complete our enquiry form


Deciding to report historic childhood abuse is perhaps the toughest decision a person can make.

We can help you through the process and represent you in any claim for compensation that you may wish to bring.


Read more about your rights:

ARE YOU A FOOTBALLER WHO SUFFERED ABUSE? Reports have emerged linking professional clubs to ex-players who were abused by coaching staff. More here on our dedicated football abuse compensation page



You may wish to calculate your potential sexual abuse compensation award to have an understanding of your entitlement.

  • Sexually abused as a child - can I claim compensation?
  • Watch our video


    Unlike some other areas of law there is no limitation period regarding abuse, as can be seen by the cases currently being investigated by Operation Yewtree, where the majority of the abuses alleged took place in the 1960s and 70s. Obviously, with the time in between the alleged abuse and the reporting of it and, by the nature of the crime, there is relatively little evidence available to the court and some of the cases can therefore be one person’s word against another.

    Already, the level of historic abuse cases is high. Defined as being offences which are alleged to have occurred more than 10 years ago, the NSPCC says that agencies including the police are finding it hard to cope with the increased capacity.

    It is now widely accepted that a delay in the reporting of a sexual abuse crime does not undermine the case and the police are now fully prepared to look into the evidence whenever the crime is alleged to have taken place. Equally, because of the passage of time, victims and witnesses may have difficulty remembering precise details but the police should be understanding of this although it can present problems in relation to bringing a prosecution.


    IMPORTANT: If you were the victim of historical abuse before 1st October 1979 and were living with your attacker as members of the same family at the time, unfortunately the CICA scheme does not cover claims for periods of abuse up to this date.


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  • Changes in the law over recent years may have made it easier to secure a conviction in historical abuse cases. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 stated that the evidence of an adult victim was sufficient to convict and corroboration was no longer necessary. It is felt by some therefore that the burden of proof has shifted from the prosecution to the defendant who has to prove their innocence beyond reasonable doubt.

    Published: 09 March 2017
    Updated: 09 March 2017