Lawyers welcome new laws closing legal ‘black hole’ period for abuse survivors

28 April 2021
Leading abuse law firm Maurice Blackburn has welcomed new laws coming into effect this week in Victoria that will help more survivors of institutional abuse access justice.

Previously, sexual abuse survivors who signed unfair deeds of release were only able to apply to set the unfair deeds aside if their settlement was signed before 1 July 2015.

Under amendments to the Limitations of Actions Act coming into effect this week, survivors who signed deeds up to 1 July 2018 will be able to apply to the court to set unfair deeds aside and, if they are successful, pursue their entitlements through the courts.

Senior associate John Rule said the new 2018 cut-off date was important because it meant unjust settlements entered into while the infamous Ellis defence was in force could now be set aside.

The Ellis defence, where institutions hid their money in trusts to avoid being sued, existed in Victoria until July 1, 2018.

“These new laws will have an immediate impact for a number of survivors, including some of our clients who will now be able to launch court action against the institutions that signed them up to dodgy settlements,’ Mr Rule said.

“For too long, at fault institutions have hidden behind unfair deeds of release, using them to avoid paying proper compensation to sexual abuse survivors.

“The Victorian Government’s work to give courts the power to set aside unfair previous settlements is a significant improvement for survivors.

“We also commend the Government for taking action to close the legal ‘black hole’ period that had blocked some survivors from seeking justice through the courts.”

Media inquiries: Jade Knight at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers on 0417 969 438.

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