Catholic Church are liable for abuse by Priests

July 17, 2012
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The judgment in the case of JGE -v- the Diocese of Portsmouth (which I blogged about here) has now been handed down by the Court of Appeal. The court found in favour of the Claimant’s case that the Catholic Church are vicariously liable for abuse by its priests. This is obviously fantastic news for the victims of abuse who are seeking redress.

You can read the Church’s mealy mouthed response to the judgment here, which states that they were seeking to clarify the law, rather than delay compensation. If you believe the Church, they were also doing this on behalf of the voluntary sector who, they claim, would also be affected by this judgment. However, the specific question before the court was whether the relationship between a Catholic priest and his bishop is akin to an employment relationship, so the only people really affected by the judgment are the Catholic Church.

The arguments levelled by the Catholic Church in defending this case smack of desperation, particularly as they already appealed the decision once to get to the Court of Appeal, and they are now taking advice on appealing this decision again to the Supreme Court.

Also, this is not the first time that the Catholic Church have tried to shrug off their responsibilities towards the victims of abuse. In the case of MAGA -v- The Trustees Of The Birmingham Archdiocese Of The Roman Catholic Church they argued they should not be liable for abuse by their priests as there is not a close connection between their role in the church and the abuse. They also took this case to the Court of Appeal where the court also found in favour of the Claimant.

I hope that the Catholic Church will now stop raising these technical legal arguments to avoid their duty towards those they have let down in the worst way possible.

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