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Making historic abuse claims

Overview

If you were in state care before 2008 and you experienced physical, sexual or mental abuse or neglect and in care, you may want to make a historic abuse claim.

Since 2006, victims of abuse in state care have been able to make a claim directly to the Ministry of Social Development or Ministry of Education through a dispute resolution process, rather than going through the courts.

This section will provide some brief information about what to expect from a claim. However, a lawyer will be able to give you more specific information.

Difficulties with going through the courts

Limitation Act 1950, s 4

It is still possible to make a civil claim through the courts on the grounds of “negligence and vicarious liability”. However, this can be a long and expensive process and it is likely that the Crown will rely on the Limitation Act 1950, which sets a six year time limit for bringing a claim from the date the abuse occurred. This means that even if it is proven that the state provider was negligent, the government will not be legally responsible as it happened too long ago.

Criminal prosecutions are very difficult to pursue, as the police must be convinced that there is enough evidence to bring a case to court. There have been very few successful criminal prosecutions for historic abuse.

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