Statutes of Limitation in the United Kingdom
Unlike most other European jurisdictions, the UK has no general statute of limitations for criminal offences except for minor offences tried in the lower courts. This article first considers how defendants have been protected without the need for such a statute across the legal jurisdictions of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It then goes on to consider three kinds of cases in which statutes of limitations or time limits on cases have been considered because of special circumstances that apply them: historic sex abuse cases, crimes committed by service personnel and youth cases. It is argued that although these cases pose challenges for investigating and prosecuting authorities and there are arguments for pursuing alternative approaches to prosecution in respect of them, it is questionable whether they justify the use of statutes of limitation.
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