1 User Commentary
30 August 2011
Approach of judge when exercising discretion under s 33 of the Limitation Act 1980 in abuse case
The Civil Division of the Court of Appeal handed down judgment in the case of Raggett v Society of Jesus Trust of 1929 for Roman Catholic Purposes and Another  EWCA Civ 1002 on the 27th August 2010. The case concerned personal injury and consequential loss proceedings following sexual abuse, and the liability of appellants who had been determined to be vicariously responsible and had been added as defendants.
The appellants were the governors of a school which the respondent had attended. In defending the action argument was put forward that the abuse had not occurred and in any event an action was time-barred. The respondent had argued in reply that proceedings were commenced within three years of the date of knowledge of the abuse or alternatively that an exclusion should be made under s 33 of the Limitation Act 1980 (the Act).
Upon determining that abuse had occurred, the High Court judge ruled out a claim under s 14 of the Act on the grounds the date of knowledge was placed at the time the abuse occurred, and became time barred in 1979. The judge held that it was equitable to allow an action to proceed, exercising discretion under s 33. It was held that any prejudice would on balance be to the detriment of the respondent. The High Court stayed a claim against the Society but entered judgment against the appellants.
The appellants submitted two grounds of appeal. Firstly, that a decision regarding the abuse claim should have followed rather than preceded a decision on the extension of time under s 33. Secondly, that the wrong principle had been applied in relation to prejudice on the causation issue.
Relying on a statement made in the case of KR v Bryn Alyn Community Ltd  EWCA Civ 85, that s 33 decisions must be made prior to determining liability, the appellants also highlighted subsequent authority of AB and Others v Nugent Care Society  EWCA Civ 827 which referred to the "well established and uncontroversial starting points" of the Bryn Alyn case. Acknowledging that the judge had determined liability before considering limitation, the court held the real issue was the manner in which the question of limitation had been approached. Analysing the High Court decision, the court found that the decision had been made on the grounds of an overall assessment, rather than solely on the abuse finding.
The court determined that order had not affected the s 33 exercise or the ultimate decision.
Considering whether the judge was correct to find that there would be no prejudice to the defendant, the court outlined the appellant’s contention that it is wrong in principle to find that there was no prejudice as the burden of proof in establishing extent always fell on a claimant. Finding that the judge’s approach had been correct, the court held that on the particular facts prejudice had been accurately assessed and would not be altered.
Getting the most out of
JustCite is a one-of-its-kind legal research tool that shows you how materials cite and relate to each other. It has an enormous index of information about legal documents and where to find them, but does not contain the documents themselves.
Justis is our full-text online legal library, with an ever-growing range of primary and specialist law reports, judgments and legislation from the UK, Ireland, EU, Australia and Canada.
Get started with Justis and JustCite now