The sound of desks being cleared at 140 Causewayside preparatory to the Christmas cruise became distinctly audible as the Scottish Law Commission published three major reports in December 2007 (Scot Law Com: Nos 207-209): on limitation and prescribed claims in personal injury actions, on Sharp v Thomson, and, most significant in terms of public interest, on rape and other sexual offences.  Full details via the Commission website (http://www.scotlawcom.gov.uk/).  The headline stories are the redefinition of consent in rape cases, essentially to secure more convictions, and the extension of the limitation period in personal injury cases from three to five years. 

The Commission also recommends, however, that personal injury claims which were extinguished before 1984 should not be revived.  This part of the Commission’s work arose from concerns expressed by survivors of alleged institutional child abuse during the 1950s and 1960s that they could not bring claims for damages because their right of action had been extinguished as a result of the law of prescription.  The recommendation followed two cases holding that the 20-year long negative prescription of the current law barred such claims (K v Gilmartin’s Exx 2004 SC 784; B v Murray 2007 SLT 605), as well as publication in November of the report on systems in place to protect children and keep them safe in residential care between 1950-1995 (the Historical Abuse Systemic Review: see http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2007/11/20104729/0).  Whether this recommendation will withstand political inspection remains to be seen.