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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    Attorney-General invites feedback on sweeping court reforms

    Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    Wednesday, November 25, 2009

    Attorney-General invites feedback on sweeping court reforms

    Attorney-General Cameron Dick has released a draft consultation Bill containing the first stage of the Bligh Government’s progressive roll-out of sweeping reforms focused on modernising Queensland’s civil and criminal justice system.

    “Queenslanders are invited to comment on these draft laws, which will modernise and streamline the state’s justice system to ensure that it operates effectively,” Mr Dick said.

    “These reforms aim to ensure equitable and timely delivery of justice in our state, reflecting contemporary needs and expectations.”

    The reforms have been developed in response to a review by former Senior Judge Administrator of the Supreme Court, Justice Martin Moynihan.

    Mr Dick said the Civil and Criminal Jurisdiction Reform and Modernisation Amendment Bill 2009 would have a major influence on the courts, legal profession and community, so it was important to seek feedback and comment before finalising the proposed laws.

    Key reforms include:
    • streamlining the committal process in the Magistrates Court
    • expanding the criminal and civil jurisdictions of the Magistrates and District courts
    • providing greater encouragement for defendants to plead guilty at the earliest reasonable opportunity.

    “These changes will allow magistrates to finalise a greater number of cases, involving less serious offending behaviour such as minor assaults and property offences, that are committed to a higher court under current arrangements,” Mr Dick said.

    “The general criminal jurisdiction of the District Court will also be extended from indictable offences with a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment or less, to those with a maximum of 20 years or less.

    “Expanding the number of matters that can be heard in the Magistrates Court and District Court will help reduce costs for defendants and litigants and free up the Supreme Court to deal with more serious and complex matters.

    “If cases are resolved earlier, defendants will spend less time waiting for trial, witnesses will able to give their evidence earlier and victims will see justice done sooner.

    “Increases to the limits for the civil jurisdiction of the District Court and Magistrates Courts will also ensure that they reflect the impact of inflation and changes to the value of property in dispute.

    “The current limits were last amended more than 10 years ago.”

    Mr Dick said the issues canvassed by Justice Moynihan had long been a matter of concern and extensive consultation had been undertaken during the review.

    “The review identified varied views on reform in Queensland,” he said.

    “However, the review confirmed the need for change and these proposed reforms seek to balance the competing views of all stakeholders and the community more generally.

    “The Bligh Government is committed to maintaining a consultative approach to ensure as smooth, effective and seamless transition as possible to the new arrangements next year.”

    The consultation period will close on 31 January 2010 and the final version of the Bill is expected to be introduced into State Parliament in early 2010.

    Media contact: Attorney-General’s Office 3239 3487