Proctor : June 2019
Queensland Law Society Inc. 179 Ann Street Brisbane 4000 GPO Box 1785 Brisbane 4001 Phone 1300 FOR QLS (1300 367 757) Fax 07 3221 2279 qls.com.au Published by Queensland Law Society ISSN 1321-8794 | RRP $14.30 (includes GST) President: Bill Potts Vice President: Christopher Coyne Immediate Past President: Ken Taylor Councillors: Michael Brennan, Chloe Kopilovic, Peter Lyons, Kirsty Mackie, Luke Murphy, Travis Schultz, Karen Simpson (Attorney-General’s nominee), Kara Thomson, Paul Tully. Chief Executive Officer: Rolf Moses No person should rely on the contents of this publication. Rather, they should obtain advice from a qualified professional person. This publication is distributed on the basis that Queensland Law Society as its publisher, authors, consultants and editors are not responsible for the results of any actions taken in reliance on the information in this publication, or for any error in or omission from this publication, including those caused by negligence. 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Submissions with legal content are subject to approval by the Proctor editorial committee, and guidelines for contributors are available at qls.com.au Advertising deadline: 1st of the month prior. Subscriptions: $110 (inc. GST) a year (A$210 overseas) Circulation: CAB 30 September 2018 – 11,468 (10,535 print plus 933 digital) BY KERRYN SAMPSON The State Budget – what should be in it? Notes 1 Queensland Government, Department of Justice and Attorney-General, ‘Annual Report 2015-2016’, p6. Kerryn Sampson is a Queensland Law Society policy solicitor. The Queensland Budget is set to be tabled in State Parliament on 11 June. Queensland Law Society, on behalf of the Queensland legal profession, has called on the Government to fund: • upgrades to court technology and infrastructure, throughout all Queensland courts, to facilitate complete electronic filing and eTrials • the creation of a Queensland Dispute Resolution Hub. Both of these measures would provide substantial benefit to our rural and regional members and their clients. Electronic filing in Queensland courts Electronic filing is currently available in the Federal Court of Australia and in other state jurisdictions, but is not available in most Queensland courts. The inability for parties to file documents and conduct proceedings electronically creates inefficiencies, increases costs (for clients and for law firms) and stretches existing court resources. Regional practitioners and clients are particularly impacted by the need to manually deliver court documents for filing and the inability to inspect court files, both of which present significant and unnecessary financial cost. Upgrades to court technology and the availability of electronic filing would put Queensland courts on a level playing field with other jurisdictions in terms of efficiency of processes so that business is kept in Queensland. Funding for this measure is crucial to reducing costs, allowing for greater flexibility throughout the court process (including for judicial officers), and providing access to justice. Queensland Dispute Resolution Hub Supporting the resolution of civil disputes by alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services through the establishment of a Queensland Dispute Resolution Hub (QDRH) would alleviate existing and anticipated pressure on the courts and tribunal systems. The benefits of ADR processes are well documented. The Department of Justice and Attorney-General’s ‘Annual Report 2015-2016’ reported a 90% success rate for the Dispute Resolution Branch (DRB), resolving “more than 52,000 disputes” during the preceding 25-year period. 1 However, not all disputes are suitable for referral to the DRB but, importantly, may still be suitable for other ADR services. Currently, individual dispute resolution service providers lack the collective presence required to enable the community to understand the range of alternative dispute resolution services available, to properly compare them and to determine which service would be best suited to the nature of the dispute. The QDRH would provide a ‘one-stop shop’ for parties to find the right ADR service provider, whether they are a mediator, facilitator, arbitrator, court-appointed referee or expert determiner. Existing infrastructure could be utilised by ‘scaling up’ the existing Dispute Resolution Centre so it can operate as an ‘all-inclusive’ QDRH. The QDRH would reduce burdens on courts and the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, and encourage a more integrated justice system in Queensland by making ADR services easy to navigate and improving the availability of information and access to ADR services, particularly in regional areas. QLS hopes the Government heeds our calls for the necessary funding in its 2019-20 budget to implement both of these measures; to foster public confidence and put the Queensland justice system in strong stead for the future.