The Catholic Church in Sydney has withdrawn several million dollars worth of legal work from Australia’s Corrs Chambers Westgarth after the firm said it no longer wanted to represent the church on claims related to historic sexual abuse.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney said it has hired Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, to serve as its principal provider of legal services.
“We have sought to engage a firm that understands and is willing to partner with the Archdiocese in all aspects of our extensive ministry,” the Archdiocese’s executive director for administration and finance, Michael Digges, said in a statement.
“The Catholic Church in Australia remains committed to continuing responsibility towards survivors of historical abuse, while also providing relief, reassurance and support to all of those currently struggling in society today.”
The Archdiocese of Sydney said it had decided “to cease all engagement with its former legal services provider Corrs Chambers Westgarth.”
The move comes after Corrs said it would no longer represent the Catholic Church in Melbourne against claims related to historic sexual abuse.
Corrs and the Church declined to disclose the value of the work, but one media report put it at A$3 million (US$2.1 million). A source with knowledge of the engagement said that figure could be on the conservative side because the work involves representing the church, its schools, its aged care homes and other bodies across a wide range of legal needs.
Corrs declined to comment beyond reissuing the same statement it put out last week, stating that the firm “is transitioning away from undertaking personal injury work.”