Scrap time limit in sex abuse victim compo claims, urges MP
By Danielle Le Messurier
April 9, 2016
|Graham Jacobs has sought to remove the limitation period for personal injury suffered by victims of child sexual abuse.|
SCRAPPING the time limit on when sex abuse victims can sue for compensation has won Barnett Government support.
The move could open the floodgates for scores of massive damages claims.
Under the statute of limitations, survivors of child sexual abuse are unable to claim damages after six years from the date of the alleged offence.
A private member’s Bill proposed by Liberal MP Graham Jacobs seeks to remove the limitation period completely for personal injury, including psychological injury suffered by victims of child sexual abuse.
Attorney-General Michael Mischin said the Government was sympathetic and supportive of the aims of the Bill.
He said the Government was considering the implications of the Bill and “whether it can be supported as Dr Jacobs proposes or subject to amendments”.
It’s understood Premier Colin Barnett and the Liberal Party this week threw their support behind the changes.
One Perth law firm told The Sunday Times it had more than 100 clients waiting in the wings. Bradley Bayly Legal director David Bayly said his firm had been contacted by numerous victims with alleged claims against the Anglican and Catholic churches, hostels, and teachers in “leading private schools”.
“I commend the Liberal Party and in particular Dr Jacobs in leading the forefront of much-needed legislative change in this area,” said Mr Bayly, whose firm acted for victims of abuse at St Andrew’s Hostel in Katanning.
“If this legislation is passed by both houses of Parliament it will see victims of sexual abuse able to seek adequate and reasonable compensation against the perpetrators of these terrible crimes.”
Last year, Cabinet members raised concerns it would open the floodgates to multimillion-dollar claims.
Mr Bayly said all claims would still be subjected to common law principles of recovery.
“It will mean we’re able to assist numerous people who have contacted us over the years to seek civil remedies for sexual abuse and in particular, victims who have come to our attention as a result of the Royal Commission,” he said.
Dr Jacobs said the legislation would be debated in Parliament after the winter break.