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    Media Statements

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

    Queensland courts continue to achieve high clearance rates

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

    Friday, December 10, 2010

    Queensland courts continue to achieve high clearance rates

    Queensland courts continued their record of efficiently resolving criminal and civil cases last financial year, despite an overall increase in workload.

    Attorney-General Cameron Dick tabled the 2009-10 annual reports for the Supreme Court, District Court and Magistrates Court in Parliament today.

    Mr Dick said the Magistrates Court improved its clearance rates in both criminal and civil jurisdictions, despite a continued increase in the number of criminal matters lodged.

    “The clearance rate for criminal matters increased by one per cent in 2009-10 to 101.5 per cent while the civil clearance rate was an impressive 112.3 per cent,” he said.

    “A clearance rate above 100 per cent means that the courts are clearing their pending caseloads so the Magistrates Court figures are particularly notable given the high volume of matters that are dealt with at this level.

    “In the criminal jurisdiction, the number of charges against adult defendants increased 0.87 per cent to 340,878, and the number for young defendants increased 12.56 per cent to 25,503.

    “Despite a decrease in the overall number of civil matters lodged in the Magistrates Court due to the introduction of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, the number of claims dealt with in the civil jurisdiction increased 4.81 per cent to 30,695.

    “New Murri Courts were also established in Charters Towers, Maryborough and Toowoomba during 2009-10 and a new court opened at Mabuiag Island in the Torres Strait.”

    Mr Dick said the District Court’s clearance rate for criminal appeals was up 27.1 per cent on last year to 122.3 per cent, despite a 13 per cent increase in appeals lodged in Brisbane.

    “Clearance rates in the District Court criminal jurisdiction dropped slightly on the previous year to 96.6 per cent,” he said.

    “This can be attributed in part to a decrease in the number of defendants who pleaded guilty and a corresponding increase in matters which went to trial.

    “Total matters lodged in the District Court’s civil jurisdiction rose more than 7 per cent, particularly the number of claims for civil compensation, which also affected clearance rates.”

    Mr Dick said the Planning and Environment Court, a division of the District Court, had received international recognition during the year.

    “A survey of international environmental courts and tribunals recognised the court as a world leader in such areas as case management and regional service,” he said.

    “This recognition is a glowing endorsement of the quality and dedication of our District Court judges, and their commitment to ongoing review and reform.”

    Mr Dick said in the Supreme Court, the clearance rate for the civil trial division increased in 2009-10 by more than 7 per cent to 94.9 per cent.

    For the criminal trial division, the clearance rate of 92.8 per cent dropped slightly from last year as a result of fewer guilty pleas and more matters going to trial.

    “The Court of Appeal disposed of 344 criminal and 248 civil appeals in 2009-10, representing clearance rates of 98.6 and 93.2 per cent respectively.”

    Mr Dick said the three reports outlined another impressive year of achievements in the Supreme, District and Magistrates courts.

    “I want to acknowledge Queensland’s judges, magistrates and court staff for the efficient and effective manner in which the courts operate,” he said.

    “I also want to thank the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, the Chief Justice of Queensland and head of the state’s judiciary, for his leadership and contribution to Queensland’s justice system.”

    Mr Dick said court efficiency and effectiveness would be further enhanced by the Queensland Government’s sweeping reforms to the state’s civil and criminal jurisdictions.

    “The changes, which took effect recently, help streamline the committal process and expand the criminal and civil jurisdictions of the Magistrates and District courts.

    “Our reforms will ensure that the administration of justice in Queensland is modern, accessible and responsive to community needs and expectations.”

    Media contact: Attorney-General and Industrial Relations Minister 3239 3487