Queensland Law Society

Better resourcing for the justice system in Queensland – court resources and dispute resolution

An efficient and effective justice system, which provides for an up-to-date and user-friendly court system together with appropriate alternative dispute resolution, is central to ensuring all

Queenslanders have access to justice in the way that best suits their needs. Further, the operation of these systems also impacts on business and the Queensland economy generally.

Queensland needs to improve its delivery of justice in a way that recognises the needs of our population, given the decentralised nature of the state, and the needs of individuals and business by utilising technology and funding appropriate support services, which will build a pathway to better outcomes.

QLS calls for a commitment to:

  1. Reduce delays in state courts, commissions and in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal by:
    1. appointing more judges, magistrates, commissioners and judicial members; and
    2. better resourcing registries,

particularly dedicating resources in jurisdictions and regions where there are longstanding delays in:

  1. obtaining hearing dates and other related matters;
  2. obtaining a decision or judgment including default and reserved judgments.

2    Improve access to Queensland Courts by:

                1.    delivering electronic filing for all State courts, tribunals and commissions by 2022; 

                2.facilitating the use of electronic signatures by individuals, corporations and legal practitioners in the signing of court     documents, including permanently retaining the virtual execution and witnessing arrangements introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic;

                3. improving physical and technological Court infrastructure to meet the needs of users, particularly in regional areas to ensure circuit courts, tribunals and commissions are able to sit without disrupting local court matters;

                4.    ensuring court proceedings are supported by an appropriate numbers of registrars, court liaison officers and other support services (such as the Court Network Volunteer Service) to assist vulnerable people in the court system;

                5.    updating the Queensland Courts website so that court services can be easily accessed and navigated by all court users, including vulnerable people and people who require interpretation services.

3.    Establish a Dispute Resolution Hub in Queensland to provide information on alternative dispute resolution modes and provide a register of qualified and accredited practitioners for each of these mode which parties to a dispute can be directed to. The Hub should be an all-inclusive, state-wide resource which eliminates the difficulty for parties in navigating multiple resources.

4.    Allocate temporary funding for the courts to address any backlog created by court closures during COVID-19.

5.    Allocate funding for the Coroners Court for family liaison officers and counselling services for family and witnesses involved in coronial inquests.

6.    Allocate funding to implement electronic recording in the Mental Health Review Tribunal as a priority.

7.    Investigate the impacts on the justice system of lay representatives appearing in legal matters, including risks to consumers and delays to judicial processes. The investigation should address the right to claim damages from the lay representative in cases of negligence, the implementation of an insurance scheme to protect consumers and a commitment to prosecute those holding themselves out as lawyers.