Social worker boundary violation claim: Application for assets freezing order

Rogers v Northern NSW Local Health District [2017] NSWSC 731 was an interlocutory application arising from an asserted breach of duty in that a social worker acted improperly towards the Plaintiff by forming a personal and sexual relationship with her whilst and after he was her social worker, she having been referred to him by a psychiatrist at the Defendant.

The Defendant has filed a cross-claim against the social worker seeking an indemnity for or contribution towards any damages that are found payable to the Plaintiff by the Defendant. The Defendant applied for a freezing order in respect of the assets of the social worker.

The application did not succeed. The court said at [6] – [7]:

The authorities make clear that the Court’s power to grant a freezing order is based on its power to prevent the frustration of its process and to ensure that its judgments are not without value, but they say that a freezing order is a drastic remedy which should not be granted lightly and its purpose is to preserve the status quo, not to change it in favour of an Applicant. Further, a freezing order is not intended to provide a Plaintiff or a judgment debtor with security for its judgment in advance of execution. A claim that there is a risk that assets will be dissipated is not enough; there must be evidence suggesting that there is some danger or real threat that the judgment will not be able to be satisfied by reason of the Defendant dealing with their property. Many of these principles are to be found in Malvina Park Pty Ltd T/As Firths The Superannuation Lawyers v Pollard [2015] NSWSC 578.

I do not think that the evidence in the present case establishes any basis for providing a freezing order against the property of the Defendant. There is no evidence of any suggestion of a proposed dissipation of assets nor that any form of asset is to be removed from the jurisdiction which might frustrate the execution of any judgment obtained.


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