Legislative change has been introduced that removes a significant hurdle for victims of child abuse.
These new laws prevent the use of the'Ellis defence' to avoid being sued by victims seeking compensation from organisations associated with their abuse. The defence, previously used by unincorporated organisations, refers to the case of Mr John Ellis who unsuccessfully sued his abuser (a priest), Cardinal George Pell and the Trustees of the Roman Catholic Church for the Archdiocese of Sydney.
Sealing this legal loophole will give unincorporated organisations - including religious institutions - an opportunity to nominate a legal entity with sufficient assets for child abuse survivors to sue. Should these new laws not be complied with, the associated trusts of organisations will be sued to pay due compensation to victims. Property and assets held in trust by these organisations will now also be used to make payment.
Cases will proceed regardless of whether an a legal entity has been appointed.
This law is a further implementation of key recommendations from the Victorian Betrayal of Trust Report and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse 2015 Redress and Civil Litigation Report.
The Andrews Government has also been responsible for abolishing time limits for abuse survivors to make a claim, and introduced a'duty of care' for organisations exercising care, supervision or authority over children.
Acting for many victims of abuse, Partner Bree Knoester guides her clients through the legal process with consistent and carefully considered advice. For a confidential discussion, you can contact Bree on her direct telephone number (03) 9321 9879.