Prior to 1 January 2004 Police could be sued as individuals for any injury or damage caused while carrying out their duties in good faith. Litigants seeking damages for actions committed by Police were able to sue officers as individuals causing increidible stress to members accused.
Many members acting in the course of their duties were unsupported by their employer when sued, despite there being no evidence that they had acted improperly.
The Association worked closely with Police Minister John Watkins to prompt change and protection of members.
The the Police Legislation Amendment (Civil Liability) Bill 2003 saw the introduction of the Police Legislation Amendment (Civil Liability) Act 2003 No 74. Litigants seeking damages for actions committed by Police would now have to claim against the Crown, meaning the homes and assets of Police Officers acting in accordance with their duty would be safe from legal action.
Moreover, the legislation was retrospective in its nature and covered matters already filed at Court.
PANSW Presiden Ian Ball reported on the Police Association achievement during Conference 2004 and in the Police News Magazine.
The legislation will prove to be of enormous benefit to all operational members. As a result of this legislation the enormous stress experienced by members being sued as well as the problems associated with seeking Crown representationhave been removed. Already numerous membes have benefited by the reforms, as we were able to negotiate retrospective application of the Act.
The 2nd Reading Speech for the Bill specifically thanks the PANSW for making the Bill happen:
I take the opportunity to thank the Police Association for its efforts in drawing these problems to my attention and working with the Government and the force to progress these reforms. I draw the attention of the House to the presence in the gallery of the Police Association President, Ian Ball, and secretary, Peter Remfrey. I thank them for their attendance. I pay special tribute to Ian Ball, Peter Remfrey and former president Phil Tunchon for their work to bring the bill to this stage. This bill is a message to our record number of police: From now on, vexatious complainants will not be able to sue you; they will have to sue me. I commend the bill to the House.