Royal Commission findings show overwhelming need for law reform
12th Feb 2015
The scathing findings by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse about the conduct of the Catholic Church and Cardinal Pell in the Ellis matter demonstrate the overwhelming need for law reform, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.
ALA spokesperson Dr Andrew Morrison SC said that it was time for action in reforming how the law handles allegations of institutional child sexual abuse.
“Yesterday the Royal Commission found that the Catholic Church did John Ellis a gross injustice, worsened his condition following the abuse and failed to comply with its own procedures in regards to Mr Ellis’ claims,” Dr Morrison said.
“Cardinal Pell conceded that he and the Church did not act in a Christian manner.”
Dr Morrison said that this case shows that the need for law reform is overwhelming, and in particular:
1. Institutions must have a legal entity capable of being sued.
2. Limitation restrictions on the right to sue must be lifted.
3. Institutions must be vicariously liable for those who do their work, whether employee or not, and whether the conduct is criminal or not.
4. All changes must be retrospective to give justice to those already abused.
“There are current proposals and discussion papers in Victoria and NSW in respect of the limitation issue, and a discussion paper calling for submissions to the Royal Commission on redress,” Dr Morrison said.
“In Victoria, both major parties have committed to these reforms, but they are yet to be implemented.”
“It is time for action at both a state and national level,” Dr Morrison said.
Note: Dr Morrison acted as senior counsel in the Ellis case.