Child abuse claims: No limitation period

The NSW Attorney General has introduced into Parliament the Limitation Amendment (Child Abuse) Bill 2016. It is potentially relevant to health professionals as personal defendants but also to hospitals and the like as the proposed amendments extend to any action that relates to death or personal injury resulting from child abuse (for example an action founded on the negligence or vicarious liability of a person other than the perpetrator).

The Bill, if passed in its current form, would permit a child abuse action to be brought at any time without regard to any limitation period under the Limitation Act 1969 (NSW).

The proposed amendments extend to existing causes of action, including cases where judgment has previously been given on the ground that the action was statute barred. However this will not permit an action that has already been determined on the merits or settled to be re-litigated.

The amendments will not limit a court’s power to stay or dismiss proceedings where a court determines that the lapse of time results in a fair trial not being possible.

(The Bill was assented to on 17 March 2016.)

With thanks to Roop Sandhu for his assistance with this note.


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