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Judge stirs judicial system to change

Judge stirs judicial system to change

One of the country's top judges, NSW Chief Justice James Spigelman, this week used an address at the opening of the state's law term to issue a call to arms for the nation's judicial system.

ONE of the country's top judges, NSW Chief Justice James Spigelman, this week used an address at the opening of the state's law term to issue a call to arms for the nation's judicial system. 


His comments have stirred much response from the country's legal experts, other judges, and the country's Attorney General. 


Spigelman went so far as to criticise a task force set up by Attorney General Robert McClelland and its plan to create a separate legal services board responsible for legal admission and the discipline of judges. 


Yesterday A-G McClelland told journalist Carson Scott on Sky Business Channel an Australian judiciary can be done, adding that the government is looking at how it can be done. 


McClelland said it will involve, in the case of appointments to the Federal Court, the Commonwealth assuming primary responsibility for remuneration. 


"But there is certainly a willingness on the part of the Victorian and New South Wales Attorneys-General at least to discuss what contributions could be made to those arrangements at a State level," he said. 


He said another issue would sit around the heads of jurisdiction cooperating as to who would provide guidance, and at what point, to the allocation of the judges on the respective courts. 


He admitted there are some practical measures, and some challenges, to overcome. 


Despite some resistance to a national complaints handling, which came from Justice Spigelman as well as the New South Wales Attorney General, McClelland said :a national complaints procedure based on agreed national standards is ... a more effective way of doing things at a national level". 


He agreed the states may prefer their own developed system. New South Wales, which he said has a "Rolls-Royce model", may do so in particular. "But that doesn't mean we should not explore it and indeed we are through the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General."


On the problem of government getting involved in the composition and disciplinary part of the profession, McClelland said the concern is that having an independent legal profession is crucial to the advocacy that they have before an independent judiciary". These issues have to be listened to, he said. 


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