Michael Kent QC appeared on the instructions of Keogh’s for the successful appellants in Catholic Welfare Society & ors v CD
Michael Kent QC (with Nicholas Fewtrell) appeared on the instructions of Keogh’s for the successful appellants in Catholic Welfare Society & ors v CD in which judgment was handed down by today ( EWCA Civ 2342). In the context of group litigation alleging historic physical and sexual abuse the Court of Appeal gave important further guidance on the Court’s role in deciding whether to allow actions to proceed under section 33 of the Limitation Act 1980 where the proposed defendant is first notified of the facts alleged many years after the event. In particular the Court clarified that the test was not whether a fair trial was still possible but whether the defendant would be exposed to the real possibility of significant prejudice—if so this would usually resolve the issue in the defendant’s favour. The Court also re-emphasised the warning previously given in the authorities that, where the trial judge was deciding the section 33 issue at the same time as substantive issues, he or she must guard against proceeding from a finding on the (necessarily partial) evidence heard that the claimant should succeed on the merits to the conclusion that it would be equitable to misapply the limitation period. As Lewison LJ said: “it is one thing for a judge at trial to arrive at a conclusion on the balance of probabilities on the basis of the evidence, however imperfect, that is called before him. It is another thing entirely to conclude that the answer would have been the same in any event.”
Judgment can be found here.
Keoghs article regarding the claim can be found here.