Changes to Limitation of Actions (Child Sexual Abuse) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2016 (Qld)

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Lifting of the limitation period commenced on the 1st March 2017.

The Limitation of Actions Act 1974 was amended by:

This Act was passed by the Queensland Parliament on 8 November 2016 and Assented to on 11 November 2016.

The key provisions of the Act (Part 2 Amendment of Limitation of Actions Act 1974), which remove the limitation period survivors of sexual abuse as a child, by s2 of the Act commence on a date to be fixed by proclamation. As at 13 November 2016 that proclamation has not yet been made. (See:https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/Leg_Info/current_annotations/00_Part_1_Update.pdf)

A proclamation, is defined as: “An instrument made by the Governor, usually under an authority stated in an Act, that identifies itself as being a proclamation. In Acts, provisions for the making of proclamations are usually limited to the making of proclamations for commencing provisions of Acts that did not commence on royal assent.” (Source: https://www.premiers.qld.gov.au/publications/categories/policies-and-codes/handbooks/legislation-handbook/glossary.aspx)

Proclamations are published in the Qld Government Gazette – http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/resources/law/government-gazettes and https://publications.qld.gov.au/group/gazettes-2016.

Some keys to the (child sexual abuse) amendments when they commence

  1. Sexual abuse as a child, whether or not in an institutional context

A key section is section 4 of the amending Act which inserts a new s11A into the Limitation of Actions Act 1974 which in part provides:

11A No limitation period for actions for child sexual abuse

(1) An action for damages relating to the personal injury of a person resulting from the sexual abuse of the person when the person was a child—

(a) may be brought at any time; and

(b) is not subject to a limitation period under an Act or law or rule of law.

The Bill as originally proposed the words, “in an institutional context” in the opening words of the new s11A and then went on to define “institutional context”, “institution” and “official of an institution”. All such references did not make it into the amending Act. However this does not limit the operation of the amendments but rather expands them to see the removal of limitation periods whether or not the personal injury occurred in an institutional context.

  1. Limitation periods will be completely removed

Survivors of sexual abuse as a child will have their lifetime to consider bringing an action for damages relating to the personal injury resulting from their sexual abuse as a child.

  1. Previous dismissals, judgements, settlement when an old limitation period was a factor will not be a road block

The intention of the amending Act is to allow survivors to bring an action if a previous claim did not result in proper compensation due to the claimant having problems with a limitation period. These amendments will need to be carefully examined in each situation.

  1. The Royal Commission and Qld Government has signalled that more law reform will be coming

The Qld Government in its Issues Paper: The civil litigation recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse: Redress and Civil Litigation Report – understanding the Queensland context (August 2016) has foreshadowed a number of proposed law reforms. We have been involved in making submissions on those reforms.

Our Compensation Law team are well placed to advise those affected by these amendments.