Revelations of historic child sexual abuse in private and public institutions have been described as a crisis of our time.  In England and Wales, the Jay Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is currently examining allegations of past and ongoing failures of institutions to protect children in schools, residential homes, secure accommodation and local authority care.  In Australia, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is investigating how institutions such as schools, churches, sports clubs and government organisations have responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse.  Such scandals raise the question how law interacts with social injustice and my paper will address the extent to which tort law in England and Wales and Australia has proven itself capable of providing a response which satisfies the victims of abuse and renders the institutions involved accountable.  Do we see a “common” approach across common law jurisdictions or surprising divergence when faced with the same issue?  What role should tort law play in responding to sexual abuse claims – is it for the courts or the State to ensure institutional accountability to the victims of child sexual abuse?

Professor Paula Giliker

Professor Paula Giliker holds the Chair in Comparative Law at the University of Bristol, having previously taught at the University of Oxford and Queen Mary University of London.  She has published widely in the law of tort and comparative law with recent publications including The Europeanisation of English Tort Law (Hart, 2014) and 'Vicarious liability, non-delegable duties and teachers: Can you outsource liability for lessons?' (2015) 31 P.N. 259-275 and is a contributor to the leading practitioner’s text, Clerk and Lindsell on Torts. The 6th edition of her popular tort textbook is due to be published in July 2017.  She has particular expertise in relation to the comparative law of vicarious liability as seen in her work, Vicarious Liability in Tort: A Comparative Perspective (CUP, 2010 and 2013). She is also currently Chair of the British Association of Comparative Law and Honorary Secretary of the Society of Legal Scholars for the UK and Ireland and a member of the editorial boards of the ICLQ, CLWR and JPN. She is also a Visiting Lecturer at the Universities of Hong Kong and Valencia.

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