A NEW AUDIT report into law courts in the Australian Capital Territory has spurred the Territory’s Law Society president to ask participants not to lay blame, claiming the conclusion of the report is a significant concern to the legal profession.
The Auditor-General’s Performance Audit Report into ACT Law Courts will stimulate constructive discussion about court administration and the efficiency of the ACT justice system, the ACT Law Society said.
The new report, released by ACT Auditor-General Tu Pham, was welcomed by the Law Society, which said it constantly seeks feedback from its lawyers about law and legal practice. “We welcome any initiative that will improve access to justice,” said ACT Law Society president Greg Walker.
But while Walker said he welcomed comment from the profession about law and legal practice, he urged it not to point fingers when efficiency was discussed. “The Auditor-General’s conclusion is consistent with what our members tell us,” said Walker. “It will be of concern to the community, as it is of concern to the legal profession. It is not, however, an occasion to lay blame.
“The quality of justice administered through the ACT court system is of the first order. This cannot be measured in pure financial terms. I am pleased to note that the report recommends a constructive and collaborative approach to dealing with the issues.”
The Report concludes that court administration is adequate to ensure that court business functions smoothly, the Law Society said. “We meet regularly with magistrates and judges to discuss these issues,” Walker said.
He added the Society welcomed a review of the court system. “The collaborative process recommended by the Auditor-General will be effective if participants do not form preconceptions as to the cause of any problems.”
Over the last ten years, the workload and the jurisdiction of the magistrates’ court has increased, said Walker. “In a large part, this is due to the tribunal system. Consideration of tribunals was not within the terms of the Auditor-General’s inquiry,” he said.