In the matter of Storer v State of New South Wales [2023] NSWSC 1043, the plaintiff, Mr Raymond Michael Storer, sought damages from the defendant, the State of New South Wales, for psychiatric injuries sustained as a result of childhood abuse in which he holds the defendant responsible.   

In this matter, on 7 June 2023, the solicitors for the plaintiff filed and served a subpoena on the Catholic Church Insurance Limited seeking the production of all statements of persons who held themselves out as being victims as children to sexual abuse by two named persons (Robert (Dolly) Dunn and Brother Ronald Blyth), as well as other related documentation and material.  

The Catholic Church Insurance Limited applied to the New South Wales Supreme Court for orders pursuant to the Court Suppression and Non-publication Orders Act 2010 (NSW) that would have the effect of restricting or prohibiting the full name of the complainants, or any other identifying details, to any person other than the parties to the proceedings. The Catholic Church Insurance Limited also applied for further orders that that complainants are referred to by pseudonyms, and that the publication of any of the complainant’s names or other identifying particulars be prohibited.  

On 11 August 2023, the New South Wales Supreme Court through Garling J held at [7] that:  

Without evidence that addresses the particular circumstances of each of the names that may be revealed in the documents which are to be produced on subpoena, it is simply not possible to conclude that an order under the Court Suppression and Non-publication Orders Act 2010 (NSW) is necessary.  

However, despite the Courts comments, confidentiality orders were made in the following manner:  

  1. Order that access to the documents produced in response to that subpoena be limited to the solicitors and counsel who are retained to act for each of the plaintiff and first, second and third defendants. 
  2. Order that with respect to such access by solicitors and counsel, that any inspection of the documents in unredacted form be limited to the parties, instructed solicitor, and counsel. That the parties, solicitors, and counsel will not further use or disclose the identifying details, being names, addresses, telephone number or other contain details of complainants other than the plaintiff without leave of the Court first being granted. 
  3. Order that in the event a party seeks to tender in the proceedings any documents produced in response to the subpoena, then such party will seek an appropriate confidentiality order from the Court at the time such documents are tendered. 
  4. The Court notes that the orders are not intended to prevent solicitors and counsel from seeking instruction from their clients with respect to the contents of those documents. 
  5. Grant the parties and Catholic Church Insurance Ltd liberty to apply with respect to any issue arising from these orders 

We are specialist abuse lawyers and can help you receive acknowledgement, meaningful apology and financial resolution from those institutions and systems of power that failed to protect you from harm. If you would like advice in relation to a childhood or adult sexual, physical and/or psychological/emotional abuse claim in any jurisdiction in Australia, please reach out to the author, Emily Wright, at Littles Lawyers today. 

Further Abuse Law information and case law updates written by our Emily Wright can be found on our website.  

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