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Permanent Stay Applications in Child Abuse Cases

Various institutions have faced backlash over their decision to file permanent stay applications in child abuse-related cases. In late 2023, the High Court of Australia delivered a landmark ruling against this practice. This decision was in response to stays’ widespread criticism. It underscored the need for these institutions to address the abuse survivors’ claims more directly and responsibly, rather than relying on technical legal defences. 

While the proper application of permanent stay applications remains contested, abuse survivors are still encouraged to seek legal advice and pursue their claims. Read on as we look into permanent stay applications and what steps you can take if you’re considering filing a child abuse compensation claim.

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What are permanent stays?

Permanent stays are judicial orders that indefinitely halt legal proceedings. Stays are typically sought because a fair trial is no longer possible due to such factors as the passage of time, loss of evidence or the death of key witnesses.  Permanent stay applications are filed in response to institutional abuse claims  on the basis that the alleged perpetrator has passed away and that sufficient evidence is nonexistent, thus rendering further proceedings futile and unjust.

Such motions have been widely criticised because of how they may shield an institution from any accountability. Within the High Court hearing previously mentioned, Chief Justice Susan Kiefel and Justices Stephen Gageler and Jayne Jagot wrote, “If a court refuses to exercise its jurisdiction to hear and decide cases in other than exceptional circumstances and as a last resort to protect the administration of justice through the operation of the adversarial system, that refusal itself will both work injustice and bring the administration of justice into disrepute.” 

Put slightly differently, the High Court highlighted that denying court proceedings, except in extraordinary situations, can itself result in injustice and undermine public trust in the judicial system, necessitating a higher threshold for permanent stay applications. If you’re considering filing an abuse claim, it’s important to have competent legal counsel to ensure your rights are fought for and upheld. Below is an example of just that — a client of ours who received a compensation payout of $325,000 in spite of the defendant filing a permanent stay application.

Australian court denies permanent stay applications

In the late 1980s, a student was sexually abused by a teacher at a prestigious private school in Sydney. Despite reporting the abuse to school staff on several occasions, no action was taken. After the abuser’s death, the school initially praised him, prompting the victim to seek legal action for justice and accountability. “The school later withdrew the comments once it received backlash. However, this incident angered our client and gave him the determination to hold the school accountable for his abuse,” said 
GMP Law Partner, Julie Baqleh.

Legal proceedings were filed against the school for failing in its duty of care and not acting upon the victim’s complaints. The defendant attempted to permanently stay the proceedings, arguing the long time that elapsed and the death of key witnesses, including the abuser, prejudiced their defence. This motion aimed to indefinitely halt the lawsuit and prevent any future claims.

The victim’s legal team, led by Julie Baqleh, opposed the stay by demonstrating the lasting impact of the abuse on the victim’s life. Through mediation, a $325,000 settlement was granted to our client. 

This case highlights the prevailing of a just outcome regardless of a permanent stay application. If you’re a survivor of childhood abuse, we encourage you to not let the possibility of an institution applying for a permanent stay deter you from seeking redress. Instead, let the team of expert claims solicitors at GMP Law work on your behalf to ensure you receive the compensation you’re entitled to.

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Do you want to learn more about filing a compensation claim? Call us for confidential, free advice.

At GMP Law, we provide compassionate, committed and competent legal services; we work to ensure that the institution and individuals responsible for our clients’ abuse are held responsible and that fair redress is offered. 

If you’re considering filing a compensation claim or simply have questions, book a free consultation with one of our claims lawyers. They’ll answer any questions you have, let you know about our policies (including our no-win, no-fee policy), and inform you of the best pathways forward based on your unique circumstances. 

Our no-win, no-fee policy allows our clients to gain access to our expert legal services without any personal financial burden; it means that we only get paid if we win your case, and we also take on all the expenses associated with your claim — including court fees, witness testimony expenses and others. This way, you can seek justice without worrying about upfront costs or financial risk.

Start by speaking with one of our compensation lawyers, or simply call us on 1800 004 878.

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Book an appointment with our expert team of compensation solicitors.

Frequently asked questions

What is the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse?

Established in 2013 by the Australian government, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse inquire and report on instances of institutional historical abuse.

The commission has reached the media’s attention in recent years due to its work in uncovering historical child sexual abuse claims against various religious organisations across Australia. However, it’s not just the church that the agency investigates; all major institutions fall under its remit, including schools, sports clubs and government organisations. The authority explores private, public and non-government bodies that have at any point in time interacted with children.

What is the statute of limitations for sexual abuse?

A statute of limitations effectively sets a time limit on the start of legal proceedings. For offences that have a statute of limitations, claims have to be brought before the time limit expires.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual abuse or physical or mental abuse as an adult, the statute of limitations is three years. If the victim was a child at the time of the offence there is no time limit.

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Gerard Malouf & Partners have provided friendly, experienced legal advice to communities across Australia for over 35 years. Our Personal Injury Lawyers have taken on ten’s of thousands of cases and we are proud to have won billions of dollars for our clients.
Meet the diverse and dynamic team of compensation lawyers and supporting staff that have made this all happen below. Our multi-lingual team can discuss your claims in Arabic, Assyrian, Turkish, Greek, Italian, French, Serbian, Croatian, Armenian, Mandarin, Hindi, Punjabi or Malayalam.
Meet the diverse and dynamic team of compensation lawyers and supporting staff that have made this all happen below. Our multi-lingual team can discuss your claims in Arabic, Assyrian, Turkish, Greek, Italian, French, Serbian, Croatian, Armenian, Mandarin, Hindi, Punjabi or Malayalam.

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