Whilst I fees sorry for Mrs A in the sexual abuse compensation case and I am sure that he is a very unpleasant man who probably should be still in jail the ruling just doesn't seem right. Te fact that he won a pile of money on the lottery is also an insult, but to allow criminals to be sued so long after the original case is opening a very big can of worms.
I know that this ruling is meant to deal with exceptions
The other law lords all agreed. But that is not the end of Mrs A’s story. She can now take advantage of the exception allowing claimants to bring a late claim if it is equitable to do so. But she will now have to satisfy a High Court judge that it would be fair to sue in her particular case.Unfortunately exceptions have a habit of becoming the norm, and even if they don't I expect we will now see many cases being taken through the courts to be treated as a an exception.
I don’t imagine this will be much of a problem for her. The normal six-year time limit for most civil claims goes back nearly four centuries to the Limitation Act. It still serves an important purpose: people are entitled to conduct their business affairs secure in the knowledge that they will not have to meet financial claims many years after a transaction has been completed.
We should also consider this case in the case of an other area where moves are a foot to make special cases: rape. The move to make convictions for rape easier have been commented on many times but they are still being pursued. So lets consider a hypothetical case where these two exceptions are concatenated.
A young man is found guilty of rape in a word of mouth case where both parties admit being drunk, however in our more enlightened world he is found guilty on her say so. Twenty years later, his crime behind him and his "debt to society" paid, he is now a successful businessman, married with a family. He can now be dragged through the courts by someone loking for the easy money of compensation. What's worse, he is named in public but the woman isn't so doesn't even have to consider the affects at all.
This can only have a down side, no matter what the Law Lords say or Joshua Rozenberg claims:
Those words are not binding on the lower courts. But they warn us that the courts are not opening the floodgates to unlimited sexual abuse claims. All in all, then, a fair and balanced judgment from our highest court.
Hard case always make bad law.