LAWYERS WILL find the job of searching for court rules and consulting common annotations and case notes in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) easier thanks to upcoming legislation that will remove major procedural differences between various courts in the ACT.
ACT Attorney-General Jon Stanhope announced the legislation, the Court Procedures Act 2004, late last month. Arguing it was evidence of his recognition of the importance of court procedures in the capital’s system of justice, Stanhope said the legislation will “facilitate the development of procedures that are, as far as practicable, the same for all ACT courts”.
The legislation has been earmarked by the A-G as a means to reduce costs by enabling lawyers to find the relevant court rules more quickly, as well as consult common annotations and case notes. The legislation will also facilitate the transfer of proceedings from one court to another without unnecessary delay or expense, Stanhope said.
Lawyers will be allowed to refer to old section numbers rather than rules, giving them more time to adapt to the new rules based procedures. “On commencement of the legislation the existing procedures for the Magistrates Court will apply under rules instead of statute,” Stanhope said. “This will also minimise any disruption to the court of the community,” he said.
A rule-making committee will also simplify court procedures, Stanhope said. It will be assisted by an advisory committee comprising representatives from the ACT Law Society, ACT Bar Association, the Courts and the Department of Justice and Community Safety.