A v Hoare: HL 30 Jan 2008

Each of six claimants sought to pursue claims for damages for sexual assaults which would otherwise be time barred under the 1980 Act after six years. They sought to have the House depart from Stubbings and allow a discretion to the court to extend the limitation period. The House was also asked as to whether the claimant’s personal characteristics could affect the finding of ‘significant injury’ under section 14(2).
Held: All claims for personal injuries, whether based in negligence or assault, are subject to the limitation periods provided for by section 11 of the 1980 Act which itself is subject to the discretion of the court provided by section 33 of the 1980 Act. Stubbings was wrongly decided, and the House should approve the decision in Letang. Section 14(2) set a test which was objective and not dependent on the personal characteristics of the claimant.
Lord Hoffmann discussed section 33 of the 1980 Act saying: ‘Section 33 enables the judge to look at the matter broadly and not have to decide the highly artificial question of whether knowledge which the claimant has in some sense suppressed counts as knowledge for the purposes of the Act . . The judge is expressly enjoined by subsection (3)(a) to have regard to the reasons for delay and in my opinion this requires him to give due weight to evidence, such as there was in this case, that the claimant was for practical purposes disabled from commencing proceedings by the psychological injuries which he had suffered.’
Lord Browne discussed the consequences of long delay: ‘Whether or not it will be possible for defendants to investigate these (allegations) sufficiently for there to be a reasonable prospect of a fair trial will depend upon a number of factors, not least when the complaint was first made and with what effect. If a complaint has been made and recorded, and more obviously still if the accused has been convicted of the abuse complained of, that will be one thing; if, however a complaint comes out of the blue with no apparent support for it (other perhaps than the alleged abuser has been accused or even convicted of similar abuse in the past), that would be another thing . .’

Lord Hoffmann, Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe, Baroness Hale of Richmond, Lord Carswell, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood
[2008] UKHL 6, Times 31-Jan-2008, [2008] 2 WLR 311, Gazette 14-Feb-2008, [2008] 1 AC 844, (2008) 11 CCL Rep 249, [2008] 1 FCR 507, [2008] Fam Law 402, [2008] 1 FLR 771, (2008) 100 BMLR 1, [2008] 2 All ER 1
Limitation Act 1980 2 14(2) 33
England and Wales
Appeal fromC v Middlesbrough Council CA 21-Dec-2004
Damages were sought following sex abuse whilst in care. . .
Appeal fromCatholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) and Another v Young CA 14-Nov-2006
The claimant sought damages saying that he had been abused as a child whilst in the defendant’s care. The defendants appealed a finding that the claimant had not first known of his injury more than three years before begining his action.
Held: . .
See AlsoA v Hoare; H v Suffolk County Council, Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs intervening; X and Y v London Borough of Wandsworth CA 12-Apr-2006
Each claimant sought damages for a criminal assault for which the defendant was said to be responsible. Each claim was to be out of the six year limitation period. In the first claim, the proposed defendant had since won a substantial sum from the . .
CitedPractice Statement (Judicial Precedent) HL 1966
The House gave guidance how it would treat an invitation to depart from a previous decision of the House. Such a course was possible, but the direction was not an ‘open sesame’ for a differently constituted committee to prefer their views to those . .
CitedBillings v Reed CA 1945
The plaintiff’s wife had been killed by a negligently piloted RAF aeroplane. It was argued that, although this was a war injury, the language of section 3(1) did not exclude a claim based on trespass to the person.
Held: Lord Greene MR said: . .
CitedKruber v Grzesiak 1963
The plaintiff had issued a writ claiming damages for personal injuries caused by negligent driving more than three years after the accident, and now wanted to amend the writ by adding a claim for trespass to the person based on the same facts. The . .
CitedLetang v Cooper CA 15-Jun-1964
The plaintiff, injured in an accident, pleaded trespass to the person, which was not a breach of duty within the proviso to the section, in order to achieve the advantages of a six-year limitation period.
Held: Trespass is strictly speaking . .
OverruledStubbings v Webb and Another HL 10-Feb-1993
Sexual Assault is not an Act of Negligence
In claims for damages for child abuse at a children’s home made out of the six year time limit time were effectively time barred, with no discretion for the court to extend that limit. The damage occurred at the time when the child left the home. A . .
CitedTennero Ltd v Arnold QBD 6-Jul-2006
The court considered an application for permission to appeal. The Defendant had not attended the trial, but had applied by letter for an adjournment, which was refused. The trial proceeded and resulted in an order against the Defendant. He applied . .
CriticisedKR and others v Bryn Alyn Community (Holdings) Ltd and Another CA 10-Jun-2003
The court considered an extension of the time for claiming damages for personal injuries after the claimants said they had been sexually abused as children in the care of the defendants.
Held: The test to be applied under section 14(2) was . .
CitedStingel v Clark 20-Jul-2006
Asutlii (High Court of Australia) Limitation of Actions – Appellant alleged respondent had raped and assaulted her in 1971 – Appellant alleged that she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder of delayed onset in . .
CitedJones v Secretary of State for Social Services; Jones v Hudson HL 1972
Unsatisfactory decisions of the highest court could cause uncertainty because lower courts tend to distinguish them on inadequate grounds.
One possible source of law is ‘informed professional opinion’. The word ‘final’ can denote different . .
CitedST v North Yorkshire County Council CA 14-Jul-1998
The court considered the liability of the respondent for sexual assaults committed by an employee teacher when taking students on school trips.
Held: The Local Authority was not vicariously liable for sexual assault committed by employee . .

Cited by:
CitedBowden v Poor Sisters of Nazareth and others and similar HL 21-May-2008
The appellants said they had suffered abuse while resident at children’s homes run by the respondents. The respondents denied the allegations and said that they were also out of time. The claims were brought many years after the events.
Held: . .
See AlsoA v Hoare QBD 8-Jul-2008
The claimant sought damages for her rape by the defendant. After his conviction and having served his sentence, the defendant won substantial sums on the lottery.
Held: The sums paid by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board were not paid by . .
CitedAdorian v The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis CA 23-Jan-2009
The claimant received injuries when arrested. He was later convicted of resisting arrest. The defendant relied on section 329 of the 2003 Act. The claimant said that the force used against him was grossly disproportionate. The commissioner appealed . .
CitedMcDonnell and Another v Walker CA 24-Nov-2009
The defendant appealed against the disapplication of section 11 of the 1980 Act under section 33.
Held: The appeal succeeded. The defendant had not contributed significantly to the delay: ‘the defendant received claims quite different in . .
CitedRAR v GGC QBD 10-Aug-2012
The claimant alleged that the defendant, her stepfather, had sexually and otherwise assaulted her when she was a child. He had pleaded guilty to one charge in 1978, and now said that the claim was out of time. The claimant sought the extension of . .
CitedAdamson and Others v Paddico (267) Ltd SC 5-Feb-2014
Land had been registered as a town or village green but wrongly so. The claimant had sought rectification, but the respondents argued that the long time elapsed after registration should defeat the request.
Held: The appeal were solely as to . .
CitedKnauer v Ministry of Justice SC 24-Feb-2016
The court was asked: ‘whether the current approach to assessing the financial losses suffered by the dependant of a person who is wrongfully killed properly reflects the fundamental principle of full compensation, and if it does not whether we . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Limitation, Torts – Other

Leading Case

Updated: 11 November 2021; Ref: scu.264020