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The High Court of Australia in Canberra (CathNews/Rebecca Comini)

The Melbourne Archdiocese has lost a major legal fight to block the parents, siblings, friends and families of abuse victims from suing for damages. Source: Herald Sun.

In a landmark decision, legal experts have warned will “open the floodgates” for psychological injury claims in Victoria, the High Court yesterday refused the archdiocese leave to appeal a Supreme Court ruling enabling “secondary” victims from seeking damages.

In its ruling last year the Supreme Court found that Victoria’s Legal Identity of Defendants (Organisational Child Abuse) Act 2018 – which was introduced by the Andrews Government to quash a legal loophole known as the Ellis defence, which prevented child abuse survivors from suing some organisations for their abuse – extended to claims brought against unincorporated organisations by persons who were not themselves victims of alleged child abuse.

Legal experts have warned the High Court decision will now “open the floodgates” for “secondary” victims to seek damages against a range of organisations for psychological injury.

They could include the state Government, WorkSafe, the Transport Accident Commission, schools, clubs, kindergartens, religious organisations and social and cultural groups.

It also clears the way for a claim brought by the father of a former choirboy – who died of a heroin overdose – who claims his son was assaulted by Cardinal George Pell.

He is seeking damages for mental harm suffered after being informed of the alleged abuse of his late son and by reason of his son’s death.

Cardinal Pell was convicted, then acquitted, of abusing the choirboy, who cannot be identified.

The former choirboy died in 2014 having never disclosed allegations of abuse to his parents or authorities.

A spokesperson for the archdiocese said it would consider the implications of the decision in the coming days.


Catholic Church loses fight to block legal action from abuse victims’ loved ones (By Shannon Deery, Herald Sun)


High Court rejects Catholic Church’s bid to avoid paying damages (AAP via