Abuse Law: High Court grants special leave to appeal the New South Wales Court of Appeal decision to permanently stay proceedings pertaining to historical child abuse

On 18 November 2022, the High Court of Australia granted special leave to appeal the New South Wales Court of Appeal’s decision in The Trustees of the Roman Catholic Church for the Diocese of Lismcore v GLJ [2022] NSWCA 78.  

Background

The appellant, GLJ, alleged that she was sexually abused by a priest within the Diocese of Lismore in 1968, when she was fourteen (14) years of age. GLJ instituted proceedings against the Diocese, alleging that it was liable in negligence, and also vicariously liable for this abuse.  

On 17 November 2020, the Diocese filed an application seeking a permanent stay of proceedings, contending that a fair trial could not be held as, amongst other reasons, the alleged perpetrator and other witnesses had since passed away.  

At first instance, in the New South Wales Supreme Court, Campbell J dismissed the Diocese’s application, opining that the Diocese had failed to discharge its onus, on the balance of probabilities, to demonstrate that a fair trial was not possible. Thereafter, the Diocese sought leave to appeal the decision.  

The New South Wales Court of Appeal subsequently overturned the Supreme Court’s decision, finding that whilst tendency evidence existed, along with other documents which supported GLJ’s allegations, the Diocese could not obtain a fair trial. Central to the decision was the death of the alleged perpetrator in 1996, with Mitchelmore JA opining that the Diocese was “at a significant disadvantage on the issue of whether Father Anderson assaulted GLJ” as they were incapable of obtaining any account from Father Anderson, nor other priests in the parish. Accordingly, the Court of Appeal granted a permanent stay of proceedings.  

Special leave application and hearing

GLJ subsequently filed an application for special leave to the High Court, which was heard before Gageler, Gleeson, and Jagot JJ on 18 November 2022. At the hearing, it was argued by the appellant that whilst it appeared that there was no difference of opinion with respect to the general interpretation of the legal principles governing a permanent stay of proceedings, there was divergence of opinion with respect to the application of those principles in this matter, and in abuse law more generally. In the appellant’s view, the key dispute between the parties was whether circumstances in which allegations of sexual abuse are unable to be put to the alleged perpetrator, such as by result of the alleged perpetrator’s death, are sufficient to support the grant of a permanent stay of proceedings, stymieing the plaintiff’s claim. GLJ submitted, amongst other things, that courts have accepted in a range of areas that claims are able to proceed, and plaintiffs are able to succeed, notwithstanding the death of the person responsible for the conduct that is the subject of the claim. In GLJ’s opinion, those cases have provided a great deal of guidance on how to deal with the evidence in such circumstances. 

The application for special leave was granted, with the matter to be heard by the High Court of Australia at a later date.  

Conclusion

The outcome of GLJ’s special leave application reinforces the evolving nature of this area of law since legislative reforms effected in all Australian jurisdictions subsequent to The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. It also highlights that applications for permanent stays of proceedings in such matters are highly fact dependent.  

Abuse Law: High Court grants special leave to appeal the New South Wales Court of Appeal decision to permanently stay proceedings pertaining to historical child abuse

On 18 November 2022, the High Court of Australia granted special leave to appeal the New South Wales Court of Appeal’s decision in The Trustees of the Roman Catholic Church for the Diocese of Lismcore v GLJ [2022] NSWCA 78.  

Background

The appellant, GLJ, alleged that she was sexually abused by a priest within the Diocese of Lismore in 1968, when she was fourteen (14) years of age. GLJ instituted proceedings against the Diocese, alleging that it was liable in negligence, and also vicariously liable for this abuse.  

On 17 November 2020, the Diocese filed an application seeking a permanent stay of proceedings, contending that a fair trial could not be held as, amongst other reasons, the alleged perpetrator and other witnesses had since passed away.  

At first instance, in the New South Wales Supreme Court, Campbell J dismissed the Diocese’s application, opining that the Diocese had failed to discharge its onus, on the balance of probabilities, to demonstrate that a fair trial was not possible. Thereafter, the Diocese sought leave to appeal the decision.  

The New South Wales Court of Appeal subsequently overturned the Supreme Court’s decision, finding that whilst tendency evidence existed, along with other documents which supported GLJ’s allegations, the Diocese could not obtain a fair trial. Central to the decision was the death of the alleged perpetrator in 1996, with Mitchelmore JA opining that the Diocese was “at a significant disadvantage on the issue of whether Father Anderson assaulted GLJ” as they were incapable of obtaining any account from Father Anderson, nor other priests in the parish. Accordingly, the Court of Appeal granted a permanent stay of proceedings.  

Special leave application and hearing

GLJ subsequently filed an application for special leave to the High Court, which was heard before Gageler, Gleeson, and Jagot JJ on 18 November 2022. At the hearing, it was argued by the appellant that whilst it appeared that there was no difference of opinion with respect to the general interpretation of the legal principles governing a permanent stay of proceedings, there was divergence of opinion with respect to the application of those principles in this matter, and in abuse law more generally. In the appellant’s view, the key dispute between the parties was whether circumstances in which allegations of sexual abuse are unable to be put to the alleged perpetrator, such as by result of the alleged perpetrator’s death, are sufficient to support the grant of a permanent stay of proceedings, stymieing the plaintiff’s claim. GLJ submitted, amongst other things, that courts have accepted in a range of areas that claims are able to proceed, and plaintiffs are able to succeed, notwithstanding the death of the person responsible for the conduct that is the subject of the claim. In GLJ’s opinion, those cases have provided a great deal of guidance on how to deal with the evidence in such circumstances. 

The application for special leave was granted, with the matter to be heard by the High Court of Australia at a later date.  

Conclusion

The outcome of GLJ’s special leave application reinforces the evolving nature of this area of law since legislative reforms effected in all Australian jurisdictions subsequent to The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. It also highlights that applications for permanent stays of proceedings in such matters are highly fact dependent.  

Like? Share it with your friends.

Contact the Author

Topics

More Articles

新州工傷賠償:什麼是工傷疏忽賠償索賠

新州工傷賠償:什麼是工傷疏忽賠償索賠 (Work Injury Damages Claim)? 如果您遭受工傷並有法律代表,您可能聽說過您可能有權獲得“工傷疏忽賠償”索賠。 那麼,這究竟是什麼,過程又是怎樣的呢?  當受傷的工人因雇主過錯和疏忽而起訴雇主要求賠償時,就會提出工傷疏忽賠償索賠。如果您想成功索賠賠償,您必須能夠證明雇主的過錯和疏忽。如果您無法確定過錯和疏忽,那麼即使您因事件而受到傷害,您也無權獲得任何賠償。  並非所有受傷的工人都有權利或有資格就工傷疏忽賠償提出索賠。 要獲得資格,必須滿足以下條件:  傷害、損失和損害是由於雇主的過錯和疏忽造成的; 和  索賠人的永久性損傷程度必須至少為15% Whole Person Impairment  – 這可以通過與保險公司的協議,或通過人身傷害仲裁聽 Personal Injury...

Read More

Like? Share it with your friends.

Contact the Author

Topics

More Articles

ขั้นตอนที่ควรทำหลังจากประสบอุบัติเหตุบนท้องถนน (CTP)

อุบัติเหตุบนท้องถนนนั้นอาจน่ากลัว และอาจทำให้คุณเกิดความเครียดได้  ตามสถิติแล้วในแต่ละวันมีคนสามคนเสียชีวิตจากการประสบอุบัติเหตุบนท้องถนน และมีผู้บาดเจ็บสาหัสอีกมากมาย  ดังนั้นจึงเป็นสิ่งสำคัญที่คุณจะต้องเข้าใจว่าต้องทำอะไรต่อไปทันทีหลังจากเกิดอุบัติเหตุ  เพื่อให้กระบวนการนี้มีความเครียดได้น้อยที่สุด ต่อไปนี้คือขั้นตอนที่คุณจำเป็นจะต้องทำหลังจากเกิดอุบัติเหตุบนท้องถนน แม้ว่าคุณจะเป็นผู้โดยสารในยานยนต์ก็ตาม  ขอความช่วยเหลือทางการแพทย์ หากคุณหรือบุคคลอื่นที่เกี่ยวข้องกับอุบัติเหตุ ได้รับบาดเจ็บสาหัส จำเป็นต้องพบแพทย์ คุณต้องโทรไปที่เบอร์ 000 เพื่อให้แน่ใจว่ามีเรียกรถพยาบาลไปที่เกิดเหตุแล้ว เพื่อที่จะได้ย้ายตัวคุณเองและคนอื่นๆ ที่เกี่ยวข้องออกจากถนนได้อย่างปลอดภัยและเร็วที่สุดเพื่อหลีกเลี่ยงการบาดเจ็บที่อาจเกิดขึ้นจากการจราจรที่สวนมา  บางครั้งการบาดเจ็บ และอาการช็อกอาจไม่ปรากฏให้เห็นเสมอไป และอาจส่งผลต่อคุณหลังจากที่เกิดอุบัติเหตุไปแล้ว ...

Read More