Public officers should, when acting within the scope of their duties and functions, be entitled to protection from the State in relation to legal proceedings taken against them. This protection ensures that if public officers are involved in proceedings they can rely on the State to provide them with an indemnity.
The Public Service Act 2008 provides that no civil liability attaches to a public service employee in relation to their official powers and functions – liability instead attaches to the State. The provisions also state that if an employee works for a body corporate, then civil liability will attach to that entity. In addition, there is other legislation that may provide immunity to other public officers.
Despite these provisions, public officers may still require legal assistance and other support during the course of proceedings. Other categories of public officers, not employed under the Public Service Act 2008, may also require an indemnity. These other public officers would include Ministerial staff and volunteers.
Subject to the Public Service Act, this guideline sets out the circumstances in which all public officers will be provided with an indemnity.