The Act – Commentary on Sections

Section 15 – Removal of time limit for prosecution of offence

43.Section 15 removes the time limit that currently applies to proceedings for the offence under section 5(3) of the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 which relates to unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl of or over the age of 13 and under the age of 16. Section 5(4) of the 1995 Act directs that no prosecution shall commence for an offence under section 5(3) more than 1 year after the commission of the offence. The apparent purpose of this subsection was to act as a safeguard preventing prosecution for offences long after they had occurred. However, the time bar did not take into account the reality of how long it often takes victims in such cases to disclose fully the circumstances of what has happened to them. The effect of the time bar has therefore been that the Crown has often been unable to prosecute such cases. Section 15 therefore removes this time bar.