Limitation "holidays"

“Stop the clock” is a frequently heard refrain on many a game show, but it is a deadly serious one in historic abuse cases.

Whether we like it or not, as the law stands, limitation is invariably a potential problem in historic abuse cases.

Very simply the Limitation Act 1980 says that a victim of child abuse has three years from their 18th birthday to bring a claim before the courts, and if they fail to do so they are too late. A court does have discretion to disapply the time bar, but to do so is described as an “indulgence” and so that means there has to be a pretty good reason to do so. If there is an explanation for the delay, and provided there can be a fair trial then the Court may disapply the time bar and allow the victim's case to proceed.

Now this is a very simplified explanation of the law, and victims thinking about bringing a claim must get legal advice. The purpose of this article is draw attention to what is often a live and difficult issue, and to consider carefully how best to deal with it.

Every day that passes the time bar issue gets worse, and so that has to be dealt with. By issuing court proceedings the clock stops. That is the time bomb stops ticking. It  does not explode, but is defused there and then.

Issuing court proceedings though is expensive, and more often than not the case is no where nerar ready for such a step. And so the best course is to persuade the potential defendant to agree to the clock stopping: “Stop the clock”! This can be done by agreeing a “limitation holiday”. Both  the victim and defendant agree to the clock stopping, possibly for a fixed period, or indefinitely. The agreement is usually on the basis that either party can argue, nevertheless, still argue whether the case is time barred or not.

Please do contact me to discuss limitation and the issues it throws-up.

 Alan Collins


Charles has considerable specialist experience in pursuing claims for compensation for those who have been abused in childhood. His specific expertise means that he is recognised locally, nationally and internationally for his work which has taken him all over the world including, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

He is also recognised for his significant involvement in the high profile litigation against St Georges School (Anglemoss Limited) and Cyntwell High School. These cases involved a staggering number of individuals who pursued those responsible whom despite heavily defending the claims brought against them settled by way of out of court settlements.

Charles regularly features in local and national press and he is often asked to provide his professional opinion and commentary on relevant abuse law issues and developments on radio and television broadcasts. Such broadcasts include BBC South Today, BBC Wales, ITV and ITN News.

Charles is a member of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers.

You can follow Charles on Twitter and Facebook.

Charles obtained his Law degree at Kingston University, before successfully completing his Legal Practice Course. He trained and qualified with Verisona Law beginning his specialism in the field of child abuse claims. He received his higher rights of Audience in 2012 making him one of the youngest Solicitor-Advocates in the country who is able to represent his clients in the High Court. Charles is head of the abuse team who collectively have secured compensation for hundreds of victims of abuse.

He began diversifying in to other aspects of abuse law and his team are one of the very few in the country who specialise in claims against social services.

He is involved in complex group action litigation and also represents a number of individuals and who are pursuing private companies, local authorities and perpetrators in pursuit of their justice.

Charles has strong contacts with some of the most prominent barristers who advise on abuse claims including a number of QC’s. He also has robust connections with highly qualified expert witnesses he instructs in support of those who he represents.

  • Child abuse claims
  • Claims against social services
  • Complex/Catastrophic Clinical Negligence claims

"Thank you for all your much appreciated hard work. I will truly never forget your kindness towards me. Your patience, respect and understanding at all times was beyond words. The sincere compassion shown meant more to me than words could ever express. This firm will forever hold a special place in my heart."


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