Touma v Diocese of Saint Maron, Sydney  NSWSC 1926 (on Caselaw) saw an application by the first defendant (the Diocese) that the second defendant (Father Sleiman Yammine) by permitted to give oral evidence by a/v link from Lebanon.
The second defendant was previously charged and convicted of criminal offences in relation to the alleged abuse but his conviction was overturned on appeal. Subsequent to his conviction being overturned, he moved to Lebanon where he has remained, with no intention of returning to Australia at any time.
The plaintiff opposed the application by the Diocese, on the basis that :
- Although he is aware of the proceedings against him, the second defendant will not submit to the jurisdiction and expose himself to a judgment.
- He will not be attending the proceedings to witness the pain and trauma he has (allegedly) caused the plaintiff.
- He is not in the jurisdiction such that he could be dealt with appropriately if he is found to have been misleading the Court in some way in the giving of his evidence.
- He has not provided any detail as to what measures would be taken in Lebanon to ensure the solemnity of the justice system is appropriately respected and adhered to by him.
- There is a disparity between how the plaintiff is to give evidence and how his alleged abuser is to give evidence.
Having regard to the interests of the first defendant Diocese (which wished to call evidence from the second defendant in its defence of the claim against it), the Court was satisfied that the order sought by the Diocese should be made.
The Court noted that there is a very high risk that even if the second defendant wanted to come to Australia and was prepared to submit to Covid 19 quarantine, he would not be able to organise it or would not be allowed to come.