On 2 August 2016, the ACT Legislative Assembly introduced the Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 (No 2) [ACT] (The Bill). The Bill mainly applies to institutionalised sexual abuse victims and removes limitation periods from the Civil Law (Wrongs) Act 2002 and the Limitation Act 1985 that apply to claims for damages brought by survivors of child sexual abuse in an institutional context.
The Bill implements the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse ("The Royal Commission") on statutory limitation periods that provide for time limits within which civil litigation can be initiated by survivors of child sexual abuse by amending the Limitation Act.
The Royal Commission’s recommendations which are implemented by this Bill are that:
Through extensive consultation, the Royal Commission has concluded that “limitation periods are a significant, sometimes insurmountable, barrier to survivors [of child sexual abuse] pursuing civil litigation” for damages for their injury and loss.
The Bill, if passed, will apply retrospectively, and the Bill will allow more victims to seek redress and justice through civil proceedings and the resulting litigation will promote greater understanding of the circumstances and conditions that have lead to abuse and greater community awareness of this as a societal issue, helping to remove the stigma and encouraging other victims to come forward.
Mr Simon Corbell said, in a media release, that, once passed, the reforms would apply immediately, correlating with other recent amendments to implement a reportable conduct scheme that is subject to oversight by the ACT Ombudsman:
“Together, we are sending a strong signal that institutions will not be able to hide or cover up allegations or instances of child sexual abuse and should encourage survivors to come forward.”
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Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 (No 2) [ACT] and secondary materials as reproduced in TimeBase LawOne
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