NSW Supreme Court sets trial date for landmark strip search class action

Associate invites those with similar complaints to register

NSW Supreme Court sets trial date for landmark strip search class action

The New South Wales Supreme Court has set a trial date for a significant class action challenging the legality of strip searches conducted by NSW Police at music festivals over a six-year period. The trial is scheduled to begin on May 5, 2025, according to a media release, and is expected to last for four weeks.

This group proceeding, initiated by Slater and Gordon Lawyers alongside the Redfern Legal Centre, follows an unsuccessful attempt by the NSW government’s legal representatives to have the case dismissed. The government had claimed there were insufficient common issues among those who were strip-searched.

Samantha Lee, a senior police accountability solicitor at Redfern Legal Centre, remarked on the government's ongoing attempts to delay proceedings. She noted that the government recently indicated plans to file a strike-out application concerning exemplary damages sought against NSW Police for systemic issues related to strip searches.

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“The setting of a hearing date places further pressure on the government to decide whether it will fight young people all the way to a hearing or acknowledge the wrong that the invasive and harmful practice of strip searches has perpetrated and pursue mediation,” Lee said.

The class action was filed in July 2022. The lead plaintiff, Raya Meredith, claims she was unlawfully strip-searched by NSW Police at the Splendour in the Grass music festival in Byron Bay in 2018.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers and Redfern Legal Centre are representing hundreds of festivalgoers who allege that their strip searches by police between 2016 and 2022 were unlawful, constituting assault, battery, and false imprisonment.

Class actions associate Meg Lessing from Slater and Gordon highlighted the importance of the trial date for achieving justice for group members. “Justice Garling has ordered that police produce the contact details of everyone searched by police at relevant music festivals so they can be informed about their potential rights,” Lessing said.

“We encourage anybody who thinks they may be a group member in these proceedings to register on the Slater and Gordon website to ensure that they obtain updates about the case moving forward and any active steps they may need to take to make a claim. We are looking forward to the court determining important legal issues at trial so that people who have had their legal rights infringed by police can be properly compensated.”

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