On June 21, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in an application by our client to set aside a settlement agreement he reached in 2001 with Brisbane Grammar School.
The case was the first of its kind to test legislation introduced by the Queensland Government following recommendation by the Royal Commission into institutional historical and sexual abuse which included a recommendation that those who had previously settled their claims or, some that were inadequate, because the limitation date had expired on the basis that it was just and reasonable to do so.
The Supreme Court dismissed the application on the basis that our client had failed to establish that the expiration of the limitation date was a significant factor in his decision to settle his claim for a sum that was much less than he had been advised.
Mr Abe Arends of McNamara & Associates addressed the media following the decision outlining his client’s disappointment of the decision but calling for the Government to review the legislation. Mr Arends recommends that the Government change the onus for Applicants on the basis that it be assumed that any settlement reached prior to the Royal Commission was done so with the expiration of limitation date being the significant reason for those settlements, and to have the onus put on the Defendants to have to show that it would be not just and reasonable to do so.
Mr Arends said that the reasons for the decision would be further analysed to determine whether there would be any grounds for an appeal.
Whilst it is apparent that this case was determined on its own facts and therefore other victims of child sex abuse who had previously settled their claims may have grounds to set aside those settlements, what is clear is the Applicant must show that it was the expiration of the limitation date that was the significant factor in them settling their claim for a sum less than what they may have been entitled.