The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has led to significant reporting of historical child sexual abuse in institutions such as churches, schools, youth groups and whilst in foster care.
A number of States including New South Wales have removed the statute of limitation for civil action by child physical and sexual abuse survivors. This means that action can be taken for abuse that may have occurred many decades ago.
The liability of individuals or institutions including statutory authorities, where those in authority knew or ought to have known of child physical and sexual abuse, are accordingly actionable. Such claims can be brought in negligence for breach of duty of care. Statutory authorities may be liable for negligence in the exercise of statutory powers.
A child’s ignored or unactioned complaint to a social worker with statutory authority for example may result in the vicarious liability of the State responsible for the fostering of that child to the care of the offender.
The enormous difficulty of coming forward with complaints and reliving the awful memories is a recognised obstacle and the bravery of survivors who have come forward often gives encouragement to others.
It is a sad fact that the long overdue attention given to this dark element in our society has generated the need for legal advice to large numbers of victims.
McLaughlin & Riordan are well placed to assist and advise in these matters and to steer a practical pathway to allow claims with merit to be handled with empathy and sensitive consideration.