Sensitive data breach puts pressure on NI Interim Commissioner for Victims

Brendan McAllister, the interim Commissioner for Victims appointed in the wake of the report of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI), has indicated he will not be stepping down after a serious breach in data regulations.  He has issued an apology following the breach involving the identification of 250 survivors of historical abuse.

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A report on past sexual abuse in Scouting Ireland concludes there was cover up

An independent report into past cases of sexual abuse in Scouting Ireland has concluded there was cover up and a failure to report abuse.

The Historical Sexual Abuse in Scouting: A Learning Review’ was commissioned by Scouting Ireland to examine the incidence of sexual abuse that is believed to have happened within scouting.  The report’s author is Ian Elliott, Child Protection Consultant.

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What do the Royal Commission findings against Cardinal Pell mean for the Catholic Church in Australia

The position of the Catholic Church in Australia which is facing hundreds of civil claims by survivors of clerical sex abuse will have been dealt a further blow following the recently published findings of the Royal Commission relating to Cardinal Pell.

The Royal Commission found that Cardinal Pell knew by 1982 of complaints against Gerard Ridsdale and perhaps as early as 1977 and was aware of the church’s practice of shifting Ridsdale to different parishes.

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Supreme Court in Victoria launches new Institutional Liability List

On the 10 February, 2020 the Supreme Court of Victoria embarked on a specialised Institutional Liability List to deal only with civil claims related to institutional abuse.

The new list will include claims for damages which have arisen from or following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and/or the State Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations.

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‘Zoombombing’

Around 60 children were subjected to footage of child sex abuse, while they were taking part in a fitness class on Zoom, on Tuesday 5 May. The Zoom call had been hacked by someone who streamed the video of the abuse into the session, in a practice known as ‘Zoombombing’. The class had been organised by a sports club in Plymouth and it is believe the hacker gained access as a result of the group’s login details having been published on public internet forums.

Devon and Cornwall police officers are working with Plymouth City Council’s social care team to identify all those who saw the footage, and may have been affected by seeing the images, so as to provide them with any advice or support, as required.

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Limitation and sexual abuse (England & Wales)

There has been a recent flurry of decisions on limitation in the context of claims for sexual abuse.

Under section 33 of the Limitation Act 1980, there is judicial discretion to disapply the limitation rules in personal injury claims.  The judge should only exercise such discretion in favour of claimants if a fair trial is still possible: the judge will look at the reasons for the delay, the cogency of the evidence, and whether any detriment to the defendant prevents a fair trial.

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What is required of institutions by the Historical Institution Redress Board in Northern Ireland

Section 9(2) of the Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Act, 2019 (“the 2019 Act”) provides that the panel dealing with an application before it must, in so far as it is practicable to do so and in accordance with such provision as may be made in rules, request the body, society or

organisation which provided residential accommodation in an institution to which the application refers to provide whatever information would enable the panel to verify the accuracy of information provided in support of the application for compensation.

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Australian Government announces new arrangements & possible sanctions for institutions yet to join National Redress Scheme

On 28 April, the Australian Government announced that all state and territory governments, institutions named in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse or in an application received by the National Redress Scheme (NRS) must provide a clear written statement setting out their intention to join the NRS by no later than 30 June 2020. These institutions will be expected to join the NRS as soon as possible, but no later than 31 December 2020.

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Northern Ireland Redress Board sets out fixed costs for applicant’s legal costs

The provision for payment of an applicant’s legal costs and outlays associated with an application to a redress scheme is always an important aspect of any scheme and often is critical to the success of the scheme.

In the absence of being able to access proper legal representation many applicants will not be able to navigate the application process and claim redress and this in turn can lead to applicants instead bringing their claims in the more traditional and costly way, by litigation.

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