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
Judge shortage raised as Refshauge dodges inquiry

Judge shortage raised as Refshauge dodges inquiry

The dismissal of a complaint against Justice Richard Refshauge over a “completely unacceptable” backlog of reserved judgments has led to renewed calls for a fifth Supreme Court judge in the ACT.

Attorney-General Simon Corbell announced last Friday (18 January) that he will not convene a judicial commission to investigate Refshauge, who will be given time off from court to hand down long-reserved judgments, including one that is more than four years old. A formal complaint from the ACT Bar Association (ABA) had forced Corbell to either dismiss the complaint or convene a three-judge commission.

Lawyers Weekly understands that Refshauge’s current civil caseload includes more than 20 decisions reserved for longer than 18 months. Corbell, who reportedly described the delay as “completely unacceptable”, will appoint an acting judge until the backlog is cleared.

Noor Blumer (pictured), president of the ACT Law Society, told Lawyers Weekly that, while she welcomes Corbell’s decision, describing it as constructive, she would have considered supporting a judicial commission if the situation hadn’t improved.

“This is a very serious matter [but] the Law Society regards a judicial commission as a last resort,” she said. “The best way of getting the judgments done is to give Refshauge a chance to finish his outstanding judgments and not have to sit on the bench while that’s happening.”

Blumer admitted that a shortage of judges was a contributing factor to the backlog, echoing ABA president Greg Stretton’s call for the appointment of a fifth full-time judge in Canberra.

“It may well be the case that we need more judicial positions in the Supreme Court,” she said. “The number of judges we have in the ACT is low compared to other small states such as Tasmania and the Northern Territory.”

Blumer also acknowledged the financial impact of delayed judgments on barristers and lawyers, particularly those who are paid once a matter has been resolved. But she maintained that the ACT Law Society’s primary concern is for clients whose lives and businesses are being impacted by the delay.

Corbell has only once ordered a judicial commission, which is the only way to remove a judge or magistrate. In 2009, he launched an investigation into allegations that Chief Magistrate Ron Cahill attempted to pervert the course of justice, but it was later abandoned after the judge tendered his resignation.

Lawyers Weekly contacted the ABA president for comment but he was unavailable for interview prior to publication.

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

Judge shortage raised as Refshauge dodges inquiry
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...
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 & ...