Goodbye job applications, hello dream career
Seize control of your career and design the future you deserve with LW career

Date set for ‘landmark’ strip-search class action against NSW Police

The trial date for a longstanding class action lawsuit regarding strip searches has been set by the Supreme Court of NSW.

user iconGrace Robbie 20 May 2024 Big Law
expand image

The NSW Supreme Court has established a trial date for a class action lawsuit challenging the “legality” of strip searches carried out by NSW Police at music festivals over the past six years.

Last week (17 May), the group proceedings initiated by Slater & Gordon Lawyers and Redfern Legal Centre (RCL) were given a date for commencement: 5 May of next year, with a trial set to last for four weeks.

The state government initially attempted to persuade the NSW Supreme Court to dismiss the class action regarding strip searches of festival goers between 2016 and 2022, arguing that “there were insufficient common issues between all the people who were subjected to strip searches”, but their motion was unsuccessful.


Supreme Court Justice Peter Garling, in determining that the class action should go ahead, said: “I am abundantly satisfied these representative proceedings should continue because they are the most effective and efficient means of determining the issues raised by the group proceedings.”

However, Samantha Lee, RLC senior police accountability solicitor, suggested that the government seems to be “continuing its attempts to prolong proceedings”, noting it recently indicated their plans to file a “strike-out application” concerning the exemplary damages being pursued against NSW Police for “systemic issues” related to strip searches.

“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 pressure mediation,” Lee said.

Slater & Gordon and RCL jointly filed the class action in July 2022 on behalf of lead plaintiff Raya Meredith, who alleges that she was “unlawfully” strip-searched by NSW Police at Splendour in the Grass in July 2018.

This class action has been filed on behalf of hundreds of other claimants who “allege their strip searches by police between 2016 and 2022 constituted unlawful acts, including assault, battery, and false imprisonment”.

Meg Lessing, a class actions associate from Slater & Gordon, highlighted the significance of setting a trial date as a crucial step towards individuals obtaining the justice they deserve.

“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.

“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,” Lessing said.

Lessing also said: “In addition to the trial date being set, 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.”