There is no system in place for the pleading of Indigenous customary law in Queensland courts, according to a new report by the University of Queensland (UQ).
The report, Pleading and Proof of Indigenous Customary Law in Queensland Courts, was launched this week (20 July) by Justice Margaret McMurdo. It is the outcome of an 18-month investigation into how Indigenous customary law is proved in Queensland courts in civil and criminal cases and also the question of pleading in civil cases.
"The report was undertaken because there is very limited information available on how Queensland courts deal with issues of proof and pleading of traditional laws and customs," said author of the report, Associate Professor Jennifer Corrin. "This can be an issue in a wide range of cases including criminal law defences, sentencing, succession, family law and heritage protection."
The research revealed that it is unclear how evidence of Indigenous customary law is to be presented and proved in formal courts, creating a barrier for those relying on such laws.
"This report deals with one area of disadvantage and it is hoped that it will stimulate interest in the issue of pleading and proof of Indigenous customary law and the broader issues arising from the interaction of Indigenous customary law and common law in Australia, as well as providing a platform for reform in this area," Corrin said.