Courts and Other Justice Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 Introduced to ACT Parliament

Thursday 22 April 2021 @ 10.02 a.m. | Judiciary, Legal Profession & Procedure | Legal Research

On 20 April 2021, the Courts and Other Justice Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 (ACT) (“the Bill”) was presented to the ACT Legislative Assembly (“the Assembly”) by Shane Rattenbury, Attorney-General. The Bill is currently before the Assembly.

Overview of the Bill

As outlined in the Bill’s Explanatory Statement, the Bill:

“… primarily includes a range of amendments which are intended to improve the efficiency of court and tribunal operations and processes, and technical amendments to clarify provisions which have caused uncertainty”.

The Bill also includes key reforms to enhance access to justice for victims of financial abuse by substitute decision-makers by providing the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (“ACAT”) with new powers to award certain remedies and proposes reforms to other justice legislation to support the functions of the Public Trustee and Guardian (“the PTG”) and the ACT Judicial Council.

The Minister also noted in his speech, that the object of the Bill was “a bill which makes both minor or technical and more substantive amendments to courts and other legislation, improving the justice system in the ACT”.

Outline of the Proposed Amendments

The proposed amendments are the result of consultation with, and input from, a range of stakeholders and includes a range of amendments:

  • ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2008 - to support the efficient operation of the ACAT, clarify wording of provisions, and make it easier for people to participate in ACAT processes;
  • Common Boundaries Act 1981 - to simplify notice requirements in the ACAT in relation to applications for “dividing fences” and to increase the efficiency of the ACAT in considering fence line determinations;
  • Coroners Act 1997 - to remove confusion around powers to search for and remove a body to a place of post-mortem examination;
  • Judicial Commissions Act 1984 - to expressly provide that referrals from the ACT Judicial Council to the ACT Integrity Commission in accordance with section 59 of the Integrity Commission Act 2018 will not constitute an offence;
  • Magistrates Court Act 1930 - to clarify that the Magistrates Court (Magistrates Appointment Requirements) Determination 2009 does not apply to the appointment of an Acting Chief Magistrate;
  • Powers of Attorney Act 2006 and Guardianship Management of Property Act 1991 - to improve accessibility of redress for older persons experiencing financial abuse by providing the ACAT with the same powers as the ACT Supreme Court to award certain remedies for abuse of powers by substitute decision-makers;
  • Public Trustee and Guardian Act 1985 - to give the Public Trustee and Guardian the function of making necessary arrangements for the disposal of the remains of unclaimed bodies; and
  • Supreme Court Act 1933 - to allow conditions of appointment for Acting Judges to be determined by the Executive, and to improve the framework for the completion of part-heard matters at the end of a judge’s or associate judge’s term of office.

Minister's Comment on the Bill

Commenting on the Bill in his second reading speech, the Minister said:

“… The bill also progresses a key reform to facilitate better access to justice for vulnerable elderly people who have experienced financial abuse, and it makes amendments to support the functions of the Public Trustee and Guardian and the ACT Judicial Council … I am confident that the amendments in this bill will support the redress rights of our most vulnerable citizens and improve effective administration and operation of the laws in the territory …”

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Courts and Other Justice Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 [ACT] - Bill and supporting information available from TimeBase's LawOne service

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