The Woodlands School Litigation and Settlement: Further Complications for Historical Abuse Claims
University of British Columbia Law Review, Vol. 45, No. 2, pp. 393-405, 2012
7 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2012
Date Written: 2012
September 19, 2011 marked the deadline for survivors of abuse at the Woodlands School (“Woodlands”) in New Westminster, British Columbia to apply for compensation under the Woodlands School Settlement Agreement (the “Settlement Agreement”) approved by the British Columbia Supreme Court. The Settlement Agreement was the culmination of a lengthy litigation process over abuse of children and adults with disabilities at Woodlands, a residential facility operated by the province. Two aspects of the litigation and the Settlement Agreement terms are particularly significant for historical abuse claims. The first is the province’s use of crown proceedings legislation to create a cut-off that restricts recovery to those claimants who suffered abuse after August 1, 1974 – the commencement date of British Columbia’s Crown Proceedings Act (CPA). The second is the fact that the Settlement Agreement terms allow survivors to seek compensation for sexual and non-sexual abuse even though the limitation period for the non-sexual abuse claim has expired for many, if not most, of the claimants. Considered more broadly in the context of other challenges that historical abuse survivors face in bringing their claims, these features of the Woodlands litigation process suggest it may be becoming increasingly difficult for survivors to successfully bring a claim, particularly against the Crown.
Keywords: torts, crown proceedings, historical abuse
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