In the case centred on a survivor known as GLJ, the High Court said it was not in the interests of justice for the proceeding to be permanently halted through a stay.
The decision means many other historical abuse cases that have been in limbo for months pending today’s outcome can now proceed without the threat of a permanent stay unless exceptional circumstances apply.
John Rule, principal lawyer from law firm Maurice Blackburn which represents child abuse survivors around Australia, said:
“We welcome this landmark High Court decision that has confirmed permanent stays should only be used as a last resort
“We know it takes an average of more than 20 years for a victim of child sexual abuse to tell someone about the abuse.
“This decision means survivors of child sexual abuse will not be excluded from justice simply because their abuser died before they came forward.”
Following the recommendation of the Royal Commission, all state and territory governments had removed time limits for the bringing of child abuse civil compensation claims.
“What we have seen over recent years is defendants unfairly and excessively using or threatening stays to permanently block the progress of child abuse cases,” Mr Rule said.
“This decision will end the misuse of this unfair legal tactic, ensuring more survivors can pursue justice over the lifelong trauma of the horrific abuse they experienced as children.”
Shane Moran was attending an orphanage when he was abused by the notorious priest David Joseph Perrett. When Shane was aged about eight and attending a church-run camp in Kempsey, NSW, in the early 1970s, he was further abused by Perrett. His case has been on hold pending the outcome of the GLJ decision.
“It’s a huge relief. It’s been a kick in the guts having to wait for the court to decide whether my claim can go ahead.
“This decision has made my day. I am so glad we will be acknowledged and our voices will be heard.”
Lachlan Ahoy was aged 10 and attending a church-run camp in Armidale, NSW in the 1970s when he was abused by David Joseph Perrett. His case has been on hold pending the outcome of the GLJ decision.
“The abuse has affected me all of my life. My experiences during my childhood it made me miserable.
“It’s a massive weight off my shoulders to know that the church can’t use someone’s death as an excuse to stop my legal fight.
“I’m looking forward to telling my story and getting some closure over what happened to me when I was a kid.”
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