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Court now a last resort: new legislation

Court now a last resort: new legislation

Those embroiled in legal action will now have to make all efforts to resolve disputes before heading to court, thanks to legislation introduced today.

THOSE embroiled in legal action will now have to make all efforts to resolve disputes before heading to court, thanks to legislation introduced today.

Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, has introduced legislation requiring people to take genuine steps to resolve their legal disputes before going to court in a bid to improve access to justice.

“Access to justice is not just about access to a court or a lawyer, it is about providing practical, affordable and easily understood information and options to help people prevent or resolve their disputes,” McClelland said.

The Civil Dispute Resolution Bill 2010 will require prospective litigants to lodge a statement with the court detailing what steps they have taken to resolve their dispute or, if they haven’t, the reasons why.

The statement will also provide additional information that the court can consider when making orders and directions under its existing case management and costs powers.

According to the new legislation, genuine steps to resolve a dispute include exchanging information between parties to more clearly identify the issues in dispute, or considering possible resolution through mediation or conciliation.

Litigants can also send a notice of dispute outlining the issues and referencing relevant information, or agree to participate in negotiations when initiating legal proceedings.

“These requirements will promote a move away from the adversarial culture of litigation by encouraging parties and lawyers to consider early options for resolution outside of the courts, before significant costs are incurred,” McClelland said today.

The Bill implements key recommendations of the National Alternative Dispute Resolution Advisory Council (NADRAC) and complements the active case management powers introduced in the Federal Court last year to promote the timely, inexpensive and efficient resolution of disputes, the Attorney said in a statement today.

The measures are in keeping with the federal government’s “Strategic Framework for Access to Justice” targeting better access to justice.


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