Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 Introduced to NT Parliament
On 22 October 2020, the Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 (NT) (the “Bill”) was introduced to the NT Legislative Assembly by Ms Selena Uibo, the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice.
The Bill is currently at Second Reading Stage and proposes amendments to the following pieces of NT legislation:
- Administration and Probate Act 1969;
- Administration and Probate Regulations 1983;
- Assembly Members and Statutory Officers (Remuneration and Other Entitlements) Act 2006;
- Coroners Act 1993;
- Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act 2017;
- Local Court Act 2015;
- Local Court (Criminal Procedure) Act 1928; and
- Supreme Court Act 1979.
Overview of the Bill
As outlined in the Minister’s Speech, the Bill “proposes to enact a number of minor amendments to various pieces of legislation … [the bill] represents a timely and efficient way to implement a number of amendments to improve the quality of the Territory’s legislation”.
The Bill aims to implement minor amendments to various pieces of legislation, with most of the proposed amendments being of a minor or technical nature, to:
- provide for the appointment of Acting Territory Coroners and Acting Deputy Chief Judges;
- align language in the Local Court (Criminal Procedure) Act 1928 and ensuring that the Court may award costs where a complaint is dismissed; and
- ensure that the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption has the power to retain evidence following an investigation, for the purposes of referring that evidence to a law enforcement agency or disciplinary body.
As indicated in the Bill’s Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights, the amendments do not have significant impact upon the rights and freedoms as set out in the ICCPR [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights].
Outline of the Amendments
Briefly, the proposed amendments include:
- Administration and Probate Act 1969 – amendments are proposed to “Section 103 - Inquiries as to validity of claim” and “Section 104 - Rejection of small claim”. A new “Part X - Transitional matters for Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2020” is inserted after section 153;
- Administration and Probate Regulations 1983 – new “Regulation 2AB - Small claim” is inserted as well as a new “Part 4 - Transitional matters for Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2020” is inserted;
- Assembly Members and Statutory Officers (Remuneration and Other Entitlements) Act 2006 – proposed amendment is to “Section 23 - Assistance”;
- Coroners Act 1993 – new “Section 4B - Acting Territory Coroner” inserted after Section 4A;
- Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act 2017 – proposed amendments to “Section 71 - Powers of authorised officers while on or about premises” and new “Part 10 - Transitional matters for Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2020” inserted after section 169;
- Local Court Act 2015 – new sections “Section 59A - Acting Deputy Chief Judge” and “Section 70A - Review of decision of judicial registrar” inserted and new “Part 10 - Transitional matters for Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2020” inserted after section 95;
- Local Court (Criminal Procedure) Act 1928 – “Section 77 - Power to award costs to defendant” and “Section 163 - Right of appeal to Supreme Court” are proposed to be amended, while new “Division 7 - Transitional matters for Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2020” is to be inserted after Section 214; and
- Supreme Court Act 1979 – proposed amend to “Section 41D - Retirement”, while “Section 41H - Authorisation to act in office of Associate Judge” is substituted.
Reaction and Comment
In her Speech, the Minister commented on some anomalies with various pieces of legislation contained in the Bill.
Ms Uibo noted that a further amendment to section 75(2) of the Local Court Act 2015 is proposed to address an issue identified by Neill J of the Local Court in the case JGA Concreting Pty Limited and Karpasitis  NTLC 023. Section 75 deals with the court’s review of a decision of a Judicial Registrar exercising delegated jurisdiction.
The Minister said that in that case, “Neill J determined that section 75(2) does not apply to decisions made under the civil matters power provided by section 5, meaning that appeals from a decision of a Judicial Registrar in a civil matter in the Local Court must be heard by the Supreme Court”. This amendment to the act will clearly affirm that appeals of decisions made by Local Court Judicial Registrars in civil matters are to be heard by a Judge of the Local Court
The Minister also referred to another matter which was before the Local Court in August 2019, where an anomaly in section 77 [of the Local Court (Criminal Procedure) Act 1928] was identified, whereby “the court does not have the power to award costs where a complaint is dismissed, but does have such a power when the complaint is withdrawn or the defendant is found not guilty”.
The Minister said in her speech “this does not accurately reflect the scope of the court’s usual discretion when considering costs, consequently, an amendment to Section 77 of the Local Court (Criminal Procedure) Act 1928 is proposed to clarify that the court has discretion to award costs where a complaint is dismissed and align the language used in that section with the language used elsewhere”.
TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.
Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 (NT) - Bill and supporting information available from TimeBase LawOne Service.