Law Society and Bar Association team up to say no to the virtual court

johnboy 16 June 2010 1

The Law Society and Bar Association are taking the unusual step of jointly rejecting Simon Corbell’s novel idea to form a “‘virtual’ district court”:

The legal eagles are quite clear on how they feel about the process, closing thusly:

“The Government’s proposal to establish an ACT District Court was not submitted to the Supreme Court Working Group for consideration.”

Other ideas have met with approval though:

The Law Society and Bar Association support the ACT Government’s proposals to increase the Magistrates Court’s civil jurisdiction to $100,000, to appoint a nine month acting Supreme Court judge, and to refurbish a Magistrates Court room for use as a jury room.

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One Response to Law Society and Bar Association team up to say no to the virtual court
Wilco Wilco 5:26 am 17 Jun 10

Not surprised. Simon Corbell’s proposal for a new ‘virtual court’ seems to have ruffled more than a few feathers of our resident legal eagles. The ACT Bar Association, the Law Society and some individual lawyers have really worked themselves up into quite a lather.

Why this should be so is a little beyond me. I suspect that behind the huff and (mere) puff, the legal professional bodies and some of its members are somewhat miffed because the ACT Government has refused to appoint a fifth judge to the Supreme Court, thus denying some of its more ambitious members the opportunity to park their posteriors on the Bench.

What both learned friends and their professional associations conveniently overlook is the cost of a 5th judge. Government figures put this at around $850,000 per annum – hardly the sort of stuff that grows on trees when legal welfare groups and others are crying out for increased funding.

It’s well settled that the workload of the Supreme Court has increased in recent years, particularly in its criminal jurisdiction. It’s also well settled that something needs to be done to reduce delays and improve access to justice. But at what cost?

The additional funding for the new virtual court is estimated at some $275,00 per annum. This represents a saving of some $575K per annum – plus a few bruised legal eagle egos crying foul.

In opposing city hall on this much needed reform without even agreeing to even a trial (pardon the pun), one really has to question the relevance of both bodies and their executives to the practice of law in the ACT.

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