Child abuse survivors can now sue institutions

A BILL was passed in the ACT Legislative Assembly yesterday (September 20), which removes legal loopholes preventing child abuse survivors from suing some institutions.

The Civil Law (Wrongs) (Child Abuse Claims Against Unincorporated Bodies) Amendment Bill 2018, will remove a legal technicality – known as the “Ellis defence” – which prevents survivors of child sexual abuse from seeking compensation through the courts.

“These changes are in-line with recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse,” says Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay.

Gordon Ramsay

Mr Ramsay says under the new law, an institution, that is unincorporated, can nominate a legal entity with sufficient assets as the “proper defendant” in a proceeding for a child abuse claim.

If no nomination is made, or the nominated proper defendant is not suitable, a survivor will be able to apply for a court order to appoint a trust, related to the unincorporated institution, as the proper defendant.

“We have changed the law so that all organisations, regardless of their legal structure, can be held accountable for the harm caused to survivors of institutional child abuse,” he says. 

“All child abuse survivors deserve equal rights to take legal action and seek compensation, and this Bill will give them the opportunity to get the justice they rightly deserve.”

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