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Inject triage-like function into justice system: A-G

Inject triage-like function into justice system: A-G

The justice system needs a hospital-like triage function that will help users navigate a "bewildering array of disparate institutions", the country's first legal officer said yesterday.

THE justice system needs a hospital-like triage function that will help users navigate a “bewildering array of disparate institutions”, the country’s first legal officer said yesterday.

The right pathway to enter the justice system, including courts, tribunals, legal assistance service providers, alternative dispute resolution providers, and ombudsmen, is not always clear, federal Attorney General Robert McClelland said.

Rejecting any need to inject more money into the justice system, McClelland said the government believes in a more “strategic approach” on improved access to justice.

“Nor, for that matter, is it simply about providing more resources for people to conduct a knock down, drag out court case if other remedies are more effective and appropriate,” he said.

McClelland was speaking to an audience in Canberra, including the Chief Justice of the High Court, Robert French, Chief Justice of the Family Court Diana Bryant, and the chair of the Law Council’s Standing Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mary Walker.

The Attorney-General’s Department has developed a taskforce that will examine access to justice “in a holistic way” and report back with recommendations in the coming months, he said.

“The Government believes it is important to take a wide-ranging view of access to justice as encompassing more than the courts, or even formal dispute resolution,” McClelland said.

“It may involve access to industry ombudsman, greater use of administrative review mechanisms or, where appropriate, access to specialist tribunals operating fairly but with less formal processes, procedures and rules.”

McClelland said courts are often the “absolute last place” people should go when they are looking to resolve some of their issues. “There are numerous examples of where the cure offered by litigation is worse than the affliction.”

The Attorney compared an effective justice system to a hospital, where a triage function enables matters to be directed to the most appropriate destination for resolution.

McClelland urged the legal profession to take a role in helping people access the best pathway to resolution. 

 

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