Pandays former defence lawyer, Mr Alan Newman, QC, recently
created legal history in the famous lotto rapist trial.
In a case that attracted widespread publicity and keen public
interest, the House of Lords, in an unanimous ruling, held that
Newmans client, a retired teacher, could sue the person
who raped her, even though the six-year limitation period had
The rape victim who was identified as Mrs A, expressed
delight in the result. Her life was destroyed when she was viciously
and brutally raped by a man named Lorworth Hoare, who was convicted
and sentenced to imprisonment in May, 1989.
He had previously been imprisoned for a number of other sex
crimes, including rape, two attempted rapes and three indecent
assaults during the 1970s and 80s.
On August 7, 2004, Hoare purchased a winning lottery ticket
on his way out from jail, and won a whopping £7m (over
He immediately purchased a luxurious mansion and lived the life
of the rich and famous, whilst his ruined rape victim looked
on in shock and horror.
No legal action was ever taken by Mrs A, because Hoare was a
man of straw and there was no point in suing him for monetary
The lotto jackpot, however, changed all of that. She attempted
to sue him, but in 2005 the High Court ruled her compensation
claim was doomed to fail, because it was filed outside the six-year
This decision was subsequently upheld by the Court of Appeal.
The House of Lords reversed both courts, and effectively overturned
400 years of legal precedent by holding that Mrs A could be
allowed to sue outside the time limit.
The court said judges had the discretion to extend the time
limit in special circumstances.
This case was heard together with four other appeals where the
same issue was raised in the context of sex abuse cases.
Victims of sexual abuse have long complained that by the time
they are mentally prepared to take legal action, the limitation
period has expired.
In many cases, children who were abused while growing up were
barred from suing when they became adults. That the law permitted
such grave injustice has always been a stain on the conscience
on the legal system.
Baroness Hale said it was important the legal system respond
to the challenges posed by historical sexual abuse claims.
A fair trial can be possible long after the event, and
sometimes the law has no choice, she said.
The decision gave hope to one of the victims who was sexually-abused
between 1982 and 1988 at a school when he was aged between ten
Baroness Hale said victims of child abuse were often reluctant
to report it at the time.
She said: Until the 1970s, people were reluctant to believe
that child sexual abuse took place at all. Now we know only
too well that it does. But it remains hard to protect children
This is because the perpetrators have many ways, some
subtle and some not so subtle, of making their victims keep
quiet about what they have suffered.
The abuse itself is the reason why so many victims do
not come forward until years after the event. This presents
a challenge to the legal system, which resists stale claims.
Six years, let alone three, from reaching the age of majority
is not long enough, especially since the age of majority was
reduced from 21 to 18.
This landmark ruling may have implications for the development
of the law with respect to limitation periods in the Commonwealth
The House of Lords deserves full marks for its willingness to
meet this difficult challenge posed by exceptional cases of