'Perverse' subpoena costs dispute over Ridsdale abuse

By Alex Ford
September 27, 2020

The plaintiff, whom The Standard has declined to name, alleges they was sexually abused by Ridsdale when they were a teenager.

Ridsdale is currently in prison after being convicted for these crimes, as well as dozens of other child sexual offences.

The plaintiff is suing the Ballarat Catholic Diocese, as well as Catholic Church Insurance Limited and the Office of Professional Standards, also known as Towards Healing, alleging that since Ridsdale was an employee, the Diocese was negligent and liable for Ridsdale's actions.

The plaintiff served subpoenas to CCI and Towards Healing for documents relating to Ridsdale's offences, to which the organisations objected on cost grounds - CCI sought $28,253 and Towards Healing $37,000, and stated the search for documents may be unreasonable.

However, Judicial Registrar Julie Clayton wrote in the decision that Towards Healing was seeking costs in objecting to the subpoena that "significantly exceed" the costs it sought to respond to the subpoena.

"It seems perverse that an organisation which is prepared to comply with a subpoena, provided its costs are met, will spend more than six times that amount in objecting to the subpoena," the decision reads.

"I am not satisfied that the subpoenas would have been so unduly onerous as to render them liable to be struck out.

"I am ... satisfied that the objections would have been partially successful but the plaintiff would have been entitled to production and inspection of some documents pursuant to the subpoenas.

"Given my finding that the plaintiff would have been successful in compelling production of documents on the subpoena, I find that the costs of CCI and Toward Healing in complying with and objecting to the subpoena are costs in the proceeding."



Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.