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
Vic Bar welcomes inquiry into justice costs

Vic Bar welcomes inquiry into justice costs

The Victorian Bar has joined other legal bodies in welcoming the Productivity Commission’s review of the cost of access to justice and legal representation.

“Any examination of how, and how many, people may be restricted from access to justice because they cannot afford it and do not qualify for legal assistance is important,” said Fiona McLeod SC (pictured), chair of the Victorian Bar.

“But we must also focus attention on ways we can work on solutions to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our justice system – and that includes ensuring that the very good processes and initiatives in place are properly resourced so they can deliver.”

The inquiry, announced on 20 June by Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC and

assistant treasurer David Bradbury, is due to report its findings and recommendations in 15 months.

It is expected to determine the number of pro bono hours provided by legal professionals and the number of Australians who may not be able to afford to secure legal representation but do not qualify for legal assistance.

The terms of reference for the inquiry require analysis of the supply of law graduates and barriers to entering the legal services market; the structure of the legal profession in state and territory jurisdictions; legal professional rules and practices; court practices and procedures; models of billing practices; the application of taxation laws to legal services expenditure, and other features of the legal services market that drive costs.

“Any examination of access to justice necessarily means consideration of what minimum standards to justice should apply, and how we measure against them,” said McLeod, adding that the review should look at how government policy initiatives impact on the justice system and access to it.

The terms of reference further stipulate analysis of the ability of disadvantaged parties, including persons for whom English is a second language, to effectively self-represent; and the extent to which resource disparity impacts on the effectiveness of the adversarial system and court processes.

The impact of discovery and case management processes on the cost of accessing justice will also be examined, along with early intervention measures; models of alternative dispute resolution; litigation funding; different models of legal aid assistance; specialist courts or alternative processes like community conferencing, and expedited procedures.

“It’s not fair that many people cannot afford to access the courts, or have to walk away from disputes because they cannot afford legal representation,” said McLeod.

“They effectively forfeit their legal rights. There is a huge social and economic cost that flows from this. Fundamentally, access to justice and equality before the law should not be something that is only available to those with money.”

The Commission will consider reforms in Australian jurisdictions and overseas that have been effective at promoting equality in the justice system. It will also look at how data collection across the justice system might enable better measurement and evaluation of cost drivers and the effectiveness of measures to contain these.

 “I congratulate the Attorney-General and the assistant treasurer on making this important referral. This review will be a useful addition to the significant and growing body of analysis and research in this area,” said McLeod.

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

Vic Bar welcomes inquiry into justice costs
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 & ...