find the latest legal job
Corporate/Commercial Lawyers (2-5 years PAE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Specialist commercial law firm · Long-term career progression
View details
Graduate Lawyer / Up to 1.5 yr PAE Lawyer
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Mentoring Opportunity in Regional QLD · Personal Injury Law
View details
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
Coffers open to reduce backlogs

Coffers open to reduce backlogs

MOST STATES will increase spending to deal with lengthening delays in the courts, with some resorting to unorthodox measures in the lower courts.With all major state budgets now released, most…

MOST STATES will increase spending to deal with lengthening delays in the courts, with some resorting to unorthodox measures in the lower courts.

With all major state budgets now released, most are planning to spend more on the judicial system.

In April, South Australia appointed two local lawyers — one a lawyer managing a legal team at an Aboriginal legal service, and the other a special counsel at a private law firm — as its first two part-time magistrates.

State Attorney-General Michael Atkinson said the law was changed last year to allow the appointments. He said they would help reduce backlogs, as well as introducing “flexible work practices” to the courts.

“Clearly bringing part-time magistrates into the system will give the courts greater flexibility in how their time can best be deployed,” Atkinson said.

Prior to the state’s budget, Queensland announced its biggest judicial boost in a decade, with an extra judge to be appointed in the Court of Appeal, the District Court and a new magistrate, which will add to the 85 magistrates, 35 District Court judges and 24 Supreme Court judges in Queensland.

A spokesperson for the Queensland Attorney-General, Kerry Shine, said they had not yet consulted with the profession or the judiciary on who the new appointments would be, but an announcement would be made soon in the new financial year.

He said the backlogs were increasing in part due to continued high growth in migration to Queensland from southern states.

The state will also spend $2.4 million over three years piloting a new position of “judicial registrar”, which will see court registrars hear minor, less complex cases in Brisbane, Beenleigh and Southport Magistrates Courts to reduce backlogs.

New South Wales last week announced record funding levels of $716 million for the Attorney-General’s Department, up 9.6 per cent on the previous financial year, although there are no new judges. The spending includes $103 million on upgrading and expanding court houses.

However, some areas have dropped, including a fall of 3.3 per cent in finding for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to $94.5 million for 2007—08.

“The Law Society will be monitoring closely the issue of funding for the Office of the DPP to ensure that the criminal justice system in NSW is not compromised by funding cuts,” said Law Society president Geoff Dunlevy.

Marilyn Warren, Chief Justice of the Victorian Supreme Court recently noted in the first “State of the Judicature” address that Victoria’s judges were becoming “dangerously” overworked, but welcomed Victoria’s moves to boost the number of judges as part of its budget announcements earlier this year.

The state will spend an extra $110 million over the next four years on the justice system, including $45 million to appoint two additional Supreme Court judges, two more County Court judges and extra support staff in the courts, Corrections Victoria and the Office of Public Prosecutions.

Another $2 million will also be spent on professional development for judicial officers.

The other big item is $43 million to implement recommendations of the Victorian Parliamentary Law Reform Committee to improve the delivery of coronial services, including renovating the coronial courts and better facilities.

There’s also a 30 per cent increase in funding to $8.4 million for pain and suffering compensation for victims of crime.

Earlier this month, Western Australia, which has some of the longest delays in the country, announced a retired magistrate would be appointed as an acting magistrate for 12 months to help clear delays in the courts in Bunbury, Rockingham, Armadale and the Goldfields region.

“There has been an increase in the listing interval for hearings in Magistrates Courts around the state,” said Attorney-General Jim McGinty.

“This is one of several strategies put in place to alleviate the situation at those courts with the longest delays.”

In the state budget, it was noted that the WA District Court had the longest delays in criminal matters compared to its equivalents in other states, and this remained a problem.

Although time to trial has improved from an average of 58 weeks in 2005—06 to 53 weeks in 2006—07, “this continues to be a significant issue for accused persons, victims of crime and their respective families”, budget papers state.

And time to trial for civil cases in the District Court has increased from 88 weeks in 2005—06, to 92 weeks in 2006—07.

The state is also introducing five new Family Violence Courts around the state, which provide magistrates with more flexibility when making their decisions, including referring offenders to rehabilitation programs for up to six months before sentencing. Their progress can be taken into account in their final sentence.

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

Coffers open to reduce backlogs
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Dec 14 2017
International arbitration and business culture
Promoted by Maxwell Chambers. This article discusses the impact of international arbitration on t...
Papua New Guinea flag
Dec 14 2017
World-first mining case launched in PNG
Citizens of Papua New Guinea have launched landmark legal proceedings against the country’s govern...
Dec 14 2017
Punishing offenders twice pointless, politicians warned
The president of the Law Society of NSW has warned legislators from other states about adopting cont...
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 & ...