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Former CJ to steer new justice committee

A new committee chaired by former chief justice of the High Court of Australia Robert French AC will uncover “systemic flaws” in access to justice.

A statement from the Law Council of Australia revealed that a new project, The Justice Project, will see a comprehensive national review conducted into the impediments to access to justice in Australia.

Former chief justice French will oversee the project, as well as a steering committee of eminent Australians, according to the LCA.

The project’s aim is to uncover systemic flaws and ensure the path towards equal access to justice is clearly mapped out.

It will hear from both individuals and organisations via written submission and/or consultation to form key insights into impediments in Australia’s justice system.

The project will review the case studies and explore the current sentiment on access to justice. It will also uncover what is working and why, then form constructive recommendations for future action.

The findings from the project will be released by the end of November this year.

“I am delighted that former High Court Chief Justice Robert French AC has agreed to chair the steering committee, and very grateful for the contribution of our expert committee members,” LCA president Fiona McLeod SC said.

“The review will investigate how these issues affect key groups, such as the elderly, young people, those living in remote areas, the homeless and marginalised, and the many people in our community who have experienced crisis in their lives, are exploited, or who have faced discrimination.

“This is a significant undertaking to examine critical issues that need to be addressed urgently. We need to ask ourselves whether our idea of Australia, as a free and open society, is committed to the fair-go and stands up to scrutiny when it comes to access to justice. At the moment, this is a very difficult question to answer.”

Ms McLeod said there has never been a stronger case for a review into access to justice like this.

“Access to justice is a bedrock principle for our society and a means of protecting, promoting and defending the rule of law and human rights of all people. It is a core tenet of our modern democracy, yet unfortunately there are many who are missing out,” she said.

“A person’s formal right to justice and equal treatment before the law is of no value if he or she cannot effectively access the legal system or secure protection of basic rights.”

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