find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Insurance Lawyer (3-5 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Dynamic organisation ·
View details
Legal Counsel
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: North Sydney NSW 2060
· 18 month fixed term contract · 3-5 years PQE with TMT exposure
View details
Justice needs a workout: McClelland

Justice needs a workout: McClelland

THE RISING cost of Australia’s justice system is creating some significant barriers to accessible justice and Attorney-General Robert McClelland is determined to do something about it. First,…

THE RISING cost of Australia’s justice system is creating some significant barriers to accessible justice and Attorney-General Robert McClelland is determined to do something about it.

First, McClelland moved to last month make reforms to the Legal Services Directions to promote swift resolution of disputes involving Commonwealth agencies. Now he’s turning his attention to less formal means to resolving disputes in place of court-based litigation, and encouraging all stakeholders to play a part.

Speaking at the Australian Institute of Administrative Law Forum in Melbourne, McClelland said litigation needed to be put aside as more innovative methods of justice administration were explored to seek resolutions.

“In fact,” said McClelland, “I think it would be beneficial for our entire civil justice system to have more of a ‘resolution culture’ than an adversarial culture.”

That said, McClelland noted — with an audience of administrative law practitioners before him — that administrative law was often responsible for such rising costs, but could also play a significant role in facilitating the shift in culture.

And with administrative lawyers positioned to assist individuals to redress their particular complaints, such practitioners could help clients request reasons for a particular decisions or relevant documentation under the Freedom of Information Act.

McClelland also mentioned that he had asked the National Alternative Dispute Resolution Advisory Council to provide incentives to ensure greater use of alternative dispute resolutions, instead of and during litigation.

Other reforms include the new legislation on Freedom of Information (FOI), which is expected to be introduced later this year. McClelland said a future FOI request may soon be enough to show an “aggrieved individual that their application was carefully considered by government decision-makers, and that the decision was made fairly and in accordance with the law”.

Meanwhile, the Ombudsman is also placed to investigate systemic issues as well as merit reviews in Commonwealth tribunals, and ensuring judicial review was available to correct errors of law and provide cheap and effective ways to challenge a decision of government.

McClelland said there are plenty of mechanisms available, and the role of the practitioner is vital to ensure they’re used effectively. “It’s up to them to examine the options in light of an individual’s situation and make sure they’re able to make full use of the methods available to receive effective and efficient justice,” he said.

With this, McClelland said administrative lawyers should not merely rely on the court process and litigation alone; they needed to increase their range of skills to also include negotiation, dispute resolution, mediation and inquiry skills.

Still, the process does not end with these practitioners: “There needs to be a commitment from government that public servants will actively assist tribunals in resolving disputes, and not simply protect their decisions,” he said. “So, too, it’s important to remember that tribunal registrars, members and judges share the responsibility for managing administrative law matters in an efficient and effective way.”

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Justice needs a workout: McClelland
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
LCA president Fiona McLeod SC
Aug 17 2017
Where social fault lines meet the justice gap in Aus
After just returning from a tour of the Northern Territory, LCA president Fiona McLeod SC speaks wit...
Marriage equality flag
Aug 17 2017
ALHR backs High Court challenge to marriage equality postal vote
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has voiced its support for a constitutional challenge to ...
Give advice
Aug 17 2017
A-G issues advice on judiciary’s public presence
Commonwealth Attorney-General George Brandis QC has offered his advice on the public presence of jud...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...