A new law introduced into NSW parliament will finally give survivors of child sexual abuse a chance at justice, where they are now able to sue responsible institutions.
It will bypass the widely discredited “Ellis defence” which arose from a 2006 case when John Ellis, a former altar boy, tried to sue the church.
The defence in question was based on the church’s argument that it didn’t legally exist. This was due to the fact that their assets were held in a trust that was protected from legal action.
Through the new law however, the court can appoint a trustee to be sued if an institution can’t nominate a defendant.
Mr Ellis’s old representative, Dr Andrew Morrison had spent many years trying to find a solution to the opposition’s defence.
He stated that, “The new laws are all intended to overcome the Ellis defence and they will ensure that organisations are held liable for what happens on their watch.”
“Nothing can take away the devastating impact of abuse but these new laws will make it easier for survivors to be compensated.”
Another element of the new law will also hold organisations liable for child abuse if they fail to implement proper care, supervision or authority needed to protect children.
NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman says that the reforms will remove long-standing legal barriers as, “overhauling the civil litigation system is a historic milestone for survivors, making it easier for them to pursue compensation for child abuse.”
These legal barriers have for a long time cast a protective shield over the Catholic Church, evading responsibility for decades.
However, the passed law will finally help survivors seek restitution from the institutions that failed to keep them safe.
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