False imprisonment of young people class action
On 8 June 2011, Maurice Blackburn together with the Public
Interest Advocacy Centre launched a class action in the Supreme
Court of New South Wales seeking compensation for children and
young people who have been wrongfully arrested and detained by NSW
police for breach of bail.
It is thought that over 100 children and young people have been
wrongfully arrested in NSW because of a long-standing problem with
the police computer system containing out-of-date or incorrect bail
information. Sometimes a person's bail status will change either
when their case is finalised in the Children's Court or their bail
conditions are varied: often these changes in a person's bail
status are not being added to the police computer system.
The consequence of this problem with the police computer system
has been a devastating loss of freedom for the children and young
people who are wrongfully arrested by police officers acting on the
basis of wrong information.
The lead applicant in the class action is 21 year old Musa
Konneh, who was arrested and unlawfully detained in southwest
Sydney in August 2010. Acting on the basis of incorrect bail
information, police detained Mr Konneh overnight. The next day the
Children's Court identified that the police had made a mistake and
ordered Mr Konneh's immediate release.
The class action is open to children and young people who were
arrested by NSW police for breach of bail or bail conditions which
were no longer current. The class action is only open to people
whose bail related to a case being heard in the Children's
The State of NSW has tried to have part of the claim struck out
on two occasions. In April 2013 we won the second strike out
application with costs. The State has appealed that decision to the
NSW Court of Appeal. This appeal is yet to be heard.
Major development - September 2013
In a major development in this case, on 27 September 2013 the
Supreme Court of New South Wales determined that the police could
not rely on the Bail Act to justify the arrest of any
young person who was not on bail at the time of arrest: Konneh
v State of New South Wales (No 3)  NSWSC
1424. Justice Garling found that the police had no
lawful excuse for mistakenly arresting young people who were not on
bail, placing great emphasis on the importance of personal liberty,
and restating the fundamental principle that the right to personal
liberty should not be compromised except where the Parliament
clearly intends to do so.
This is a very significant win for many young people who are
part of the class action. The judgment paves the way for this group
of young people - those not on bail at the time of arrest - to
receive financial compensation. Young people who believe they fall
within this group are invited to contact the Public
Interest Advocacy Centre on (02) 8898 6504 without delay.
For a second group of young people - those who were arrested
where a police officer had made a mistake regarding the conditions
of their bail - the class action will continue. The court found
that the defence under the Bail Act potentially applies to
this class, however it remains to be shown by the State in every
case that the police officers' mistakes were made "on reasonable
grounds". Young people within this group are also invited to
contact the Public Interest Advocacy Centre on (02) 8898 6504
to discuss their circumstances.
for wrongful imprisonment of children, media statement, 27