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Key developments

  • Local Courts in rural and regional areas
  • NSW CTP Insurance Scheme Reform
  • Land and Property Information NSW (Authorised Transaction) Bill 2016
  • Law Enforcement Conduct Commission Bill 2016
  • Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment Bill (No 1) 2016
  • Criminal Code Amendment (High Risk Terrorist Offenders) Bill 2016
  • Human Tissue Amendment (Trafficking in Human Organs) Bill 2016
  • Koori Courts in NSW
  • Letter to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) on social housing and other Indigenous issues
  • New Wind Energy Planning Framework
  • Consumer Law Enforcement and Administration – Issues Paper
  • Review of the Lifetime Care and Support Guidelines
  • Joint event on Aboriginal trauma, Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and the juvenile justice system: a volatile cocktail
  • Availability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Clinicians

Local Courts in rural and regional areas

The Law Society wrote to the Attorney General about the ongoing problem of underfunding in the Local Court of NSW, and the impact this is having on the Court’s performance and access to justice in rural and regional areas.

The submission noted that the reduction in the number of magistrates and corresponding increase in the caseload of the court will inevitably lead to delays in matters being finalised. In criminal matters, this will prolong the time spent in custody on remand by the accused, and prolong the process for the alleged victim.

Particular pressures on access to justice are experienced in country areas as a result of court closures and reductions in sitting arrangements. Poor public transport links often make courts in neighbouring areas inaccessible to many users. In many cases, it is not possible for individuals without access to private transportation to attend court hearings without the additional expense of accommodation costs as a consequence of not being able to arrive in time for the hearing, or to return home at the end of the day.

Practitioners have also reported that defendants from rural and regional areas can have no choice but to hitchhike home after being granted bail due to the lack of available public transport in those areas.

The Law Society submitted that long term funding solutions are needed.

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