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Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555

David Porter

The police are given a number of exceptional powers to enable them to do their jobs, but those powers come with conditions. If police do not comply with the necessary conditions, you may be able to claim compensation.

Even if you cannot claim compensation, the NSW Police Force can be called on to conduct an internal investigation of a formal complaint. We can advise you about the availability of both court and complaint options.

Armstrong Legal has the experience to know what claims may be available to you and can also tell you whether you have a viable formal complaint against the individual officer who engaged in misconduct.


How do I sue the police?

In New South Wales, you can only lodge a claim against the State of NSW. You cannot lodge a claim against the individual police officer, or 'the NSW Police Force'. This is because of specific legislation (the Law Reform (Vicarious Liability) Act 1983). We can provide you with advice about the impact of this legislation on your potential claim and any other outcomes you are seeking, like disciplinary action.

Claims against the State of NSW are ordinarily run in the District Court or the Supreme Court. Many police-related claims are not allowed to be run in the Local Court. The most important thing about this process is that these claims are run in the civil jurisdiction of the court. This affects the procedure, standard of proof, and cost consequences of your matter.

What will it cost?

In police-related civil claims, whichever party loses at a hearing is usually ordered to pay a significant portion of the successful party’s costs. Hearings for these matters can easily run for more than a week, meaning that if you lose, the costs can be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Police-related claims can also resolve with an out-of-court settlement. In these cases, the State usually requires a confidentiality clause. It is important for you to understand what a confidentiality clause might mean for your situation, and this will vary from case to case.

Armstrong Legal will enter in to a Service Agreement with you that clearly sets out what types of costs you will need to pay if you win, and if you lose.

What will I get?

If you are successful at court, you will receive compensation based on the court’s assessment of how you have been affected by the police misconduct. This is not just about shock or trauma, but also the humiliation and distress that can accompany police misconduct. Compensation in this area can vary widely. In order to receive advice about your specific case, a lawyer will need to consider the facts of your specific case.

One important difference about claims relating to police misconduct is that the courts will sometimes award what are known as ‘aggravated’ and ‘exemplary’ damages. These are additional sums of money awarded if an officer has behaved especially poorly, and to discourage the police force from allowing that behaviour to be repeated. If awarded, these types of damages can add tens of thousands of dollars to the amount of compensation.

Are there time limits?

In NSW, the time limit to bring a court claim for police action varies depending on the type of claim. For matters relating to a personal injury, the time limit is 3 years (in most cases). For matters like trespass to property or malicious prosecution which do not involve a personal injury, the time limit is 6 years.

How do I report misconduct?

For more information on the government bodies who deal with police misconduct, see our Police Complaints page.



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Armstrong Legal has the experience to know what claims may be available to you and can also tell you whether you have a viable formal complaint against the individual officer who engaged in misconduct.

Why Choose Armstrong Legal?

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