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
Corporate Lawyer
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· 12 months fixed term opportunity
View details
Property lawyer - Melbourne
Category: Property Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Impressive client list, national firm · Well-led and high-performing team
View details
Prepare our justice system for terrorism: ALRC

Prepare our justice system for terrorism: ALRC

AUSTRALIA’S COURTS and tribunals must change the way they operate when dealing with classified and security sensitive information, according to a report by the Australian Law Reform Commission…

AUSTRALIA’S COURTS and tribunals must change the way they operate when dealing with classified and security sensitive information, according to a report by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC).

Increased concern over international terrorism and Australia’s national security were cited as the reasons for the need for change.

The protection of classified and security information “goes to the heart” of the defence of the nation, ALRC president David Weisbrot said. This included the maintenance of critical international relationships and a continuation of the flow of intelligence information.

The report, Keeping Secrets: The Protection of Classified and Security Information, comprises 572 pages and makes 80 recommendations for reform.

Criminal trials involving allegations of espionage, terrorism and the improper disclosure of national security information have been rare in Australia, Weisbrot said.

“Unfortunately, however, we can expect increasing numbers of these types of matters, reflecting global tensions and local concerns.”

“Courts, tribunals and government agencies need clearer and more refined procedures to ensure the proper handling of such highly sensitive material,” he said.

The use of classified information was likely to create the need for administrative decisions to refuse people security clearance, a visa and passports, “so our justice system must be prepared”, Weisbrot said.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said a vital component in the protection of our national security was safeguarding classified and security sensitive information.

The National Security Information (Criminal Proceedings) Bill 2004, introduced by the Government last month, was consistent with a number of the ALRC’s recommendations, Ruddock said.

Weisbrot accepted that the Government Bill largely incorporated the framework the ALRC had developed. But, he said there were some differences in detail.

“While the Bill focuses on certain aspects of criminal proceedings, the Government asked the ALRC to provide advice on a much broader range of issues.”

The Commission consulted widely with government, law enforcement and intelligence agencies, the legal profession and other interested parties in developing the report.

This allowed it to devise a strategy that would allow courts and tribunals to provide a “high degree of protection for sensitive information — without compromising the fundamental fairness, integrity and independence of our judicial system”, Weisbrot said.

The major challenge for the ALRC in this inquiry went beyond balancing the rights of the individual to a fair trial against the needs for the Government to maintain official secrets, he said. “That oversimplifies the complexity of the legitimate, competing interests.”

“Consideration must also be given to the broader and compelling public interest in safeguarding national security and strategic interests; facilitating the successful prosecution of terrorists and spies; and adhering, to the greatest extent possible, to the principles and practices of both ‘open justice’ and open and accountable government,” he said.

It was recommended that there should be a new National Security Information Procedures Act. This would apply to all Australian courts and tribunals.

“The [Act] should apply to all stages of proceedings in any Australian court or tribunal in which classified or sensitive national security information arises, including military courts and tribunals,” the recommendation states.

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

Prepare our justice system for terrorism: ALRC
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Warning
Aug 23 2017
NT Law Society sounds alarm on mandatory sentencing
The Law Society Northern Territory has issued a warning over mandatory sentencing, saying it hasn’...
Unite
Aug 22 2017
Professionals unite in support of marriage equality
The presidents of representative bodies for solicitors, barristers and doctors in NSW have come toge...
Aug 21 2017
Is your firm on the right track for gig economy gains?
Promoted by The way we do business, where we work, how we engage with workers, even how we take a...
APPOINTMENTS
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'...
opinion
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...
Help
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 & ...