Page 1695 - Week 06 - Thursday, 3 June 2021

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As a result, the bill will make both minor or technical and more substantive amendments to courts and other legislation, improving the justice system in the territory. It is important to recognise the valuable contributions made by stakeholders to this bill. Their contributions support our ongoing efforts to improve the administration and operation of the territory’s laws.

A significant feature of this bill is that it improves the efficient operation of the territory’s courts and the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal, ACAT as it is of course commonly known. Amendments to the ACAT Act and the Common Boundaries Act promote more accessible, less complex and less costly justice services for all.

The amendments to the ACAT Act will allow the ACAT to better manage its own practices and procedures and to resolve matters, including dividing-fence disputes, in a more timely and cost effective manner for all parties. The ACAT will have more flexibility to manage its own practices and procedures to ensure the tribunal can comply with and uphold the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness in its proceedings. The amendments will allow the ACAT to dispense with the application of a provision of the ACAT rules to a proceeding on conditions it considers appropriate. This will ensure the ACAT can change its case management processes if a matter becomes more or less complex as it progresses.

Efficiency will also be improved by setting clear expectations of cooperation and engagement by parties with the legislation and clarified provisions in the ACAT Act which will reduce confusion and make it easier for people to participate in tribunal processes.

Amendments to the Common Boundaries Act create time and cost efficiencies for the tribunal and parties to a dispute by removing restrictive processes relating to dividing-fence disputes. These amendments will improve access to justice for parties to a dispute and provide greater flexibility for the tribunal to resolve disputes.

The bill also makes amendments to support the efficient operation of the Magistrates Court and Supreme Court by clarifying each court’s processes. The bill will make a technical amendment to the Magistrates Court Act to clarify that a recruitment process, including our public expression of interest process, is not required for the appointment of an acting chief magistrate. In the event where the Chief Magistrate may be required to take unexpected leave or is unable to act in that position, it is imperative an acting chief magistrate is appointed quickly and efficiently, noting that an acting chief magistrate can only be appointed from existing magistrates.

Minor amendments to the Supreme Court Act will enable the executive to determine the conditions of appointment for acting judges and the associate judge, which are not otherwise dealt with by the Supreme Court Act or the ACT Remuneration Tribunal. The Supreme Court Act will also be amended to provide a compulsion for judicial officers to complete outstanding matters as soon as possible at the end of their term. This aims to ensure that judicial officers complete minor unfinished aspects of a case and that this will not attract remuneration. If they are required to complete more

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