In brief

 On 15 May 2024, the Limitation and Civil Liability Amendment (Permanent Stays) Bill 2024 (NSW) (Bill) was introduced to parliament by the Hon Jeremy Buckingham of the Legalise Cannabis Party. It seeks to amend the Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW) (CLA) and the Limitation Act 1969 (NSW) (Limitation Act) with respect to the matter of permanent stays in civil child abuse claims.

Amendments proposed

 The Bill itself is short and we summarise below the three key amendments proposed:

  1. Permanent stays are a remedy of last resort, and are only to be granted in exceptional circumstances. In civil child abuse claims against an institutional defendant (being a defendant that is an organisation), one or more of the following are not exceptional circumstances to justify an order to stay proceedings:

    1. the passing of time;

    2. loss of evidence

    3. death, illness or legal incapacity of key persons or general absence of witnesses; or

    4. inability of an institution to fully investigate or question a perpetrator.

  2. A decision by a court to permanently stay a civil child abuse claim is not subject to a limitation period where the decision was made on or after 17 March 2016.

  3. Another consideration for a Court in determining whether to set aside a prior deed in child abuse claims under Part 1C of the CLA is: whether, before the implementation of the 2024 amendment Act (ie, on the assumption the Bill passes and is enacted in 2024), the defendant had pleaded, applied or made a representation that it would seek a permanent stay of the proceedings.

Conclusion

 The amendments proposed would provide significant benefits to prospective plaintiffs both with respect to past and future claims where a permanent stay application was raised. We are monitoring the progression of this Bill closely.

This is commentary published by Colin Biggers & Paisley for general information purposes only. This should not be relied on as specific advice. You should seek your own legal and other advice for any question, or for any specific situation or proposal, before making any final decision. The content also is subject to change. A person listed may not be admitted as a lawyer in all States and Territories. © Colin Biggers & Paisley, Australia 2024.

Related Articles