Recent Cases

GLJ v The Trustees of the Roman Catholic Church for the Diocese of Lismore [2023] HCA 32 (01 November 2023) (Kiefel CJ; Gageler, Steward, Gleeson and Jagot JJ)


Courts – Abuse of process – Permanent stay of proceedings – Where appellant commenced claim for damages for personal injury against respondent 52 years after alleged sexual assault by priest employed by respondent occurred – Where no limitation period for claims resulting from child sexual abuse under s 6A of Limitation Act 1969 (NSW) – Whether death of alleged perpetrator and other critical witnesses is exceptional circumstance so trial of proceedings would be necessarily unfair – Whether proceeding in such circumstances an abuse of process justifying permanent stay of proceedings.

Courts – Appeals – Applicable standard of appellate review – Where party seeking permanent stay of proceedings – Where grant of permanent stay of proceedings requires determination of whether trial will be necessarily unfair or so unfairly and unjustifiably oppressive as to constitute an abuse of process – Whether question of abuse of process involves exercise of discretion and error of principle to be identified in accordance with House v King (1936) 55 CLR 499 – Whether question of trial constituting abuse of process has one correct answer and “correctness standard” in Warren v Coombes (1979) 142 CLR 531 applies.

Words and phrases – “abuse of process”, “adversarial system”, “applicable standard of appellate review”, “child sexual abuse”, “correctness standard”, “discretion”, “exceptional circumstances”, “fair trial”, “inherent, implied, or statutory jurisdiction of courts”, “irreducible minimum standards of fairness”, “limitation period”, “necessary unfairness”, “permanent stay of proceedings”, “unfairly and unjustifiably oppressive”, “unfairness or oppression”.