Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 22 February 2018) . . Page.. 575 ..
This bill is part of the government’s regular process of review and reform of justice legislation to ensure that the ACT has an accessible, a fair and an efficient justice system.
The bill facilitates access to justice by clarifying the process for enforcement of ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal orders in the Magistrates Court. There are a series of amendments in this bill that will achieve a better process for giving effect to ACAT orders. This follows the judgement of Justice Refshauge in the case of Kaney and Rushton last year. In that case, His Honour noted that it would be preferable to put beyond doubt that the enforcement of ACAT orders is intended to happen through the established procedures under the Magistrates Court Act 1930.
The amendments to section 71 of the ACAT Act make it clear that an ACAT order may be enforced by filing a copy of the order sealed by the tribunal, along with an affidavit in support stating that the order has not been complied with in the appropriate court, usually the Magistrates Court. This important clarification will reduce red tape for enforcing judgements in litigation. It will reduce the potential for uncertainty and for delay in the enforcement of orders, providing additional incentive to comply with them.
The bill will also amend the Utilities Act 2000 to increase from $10,000 to $25,000 the maximum monetary amount of compensation for energy and water complaints which are upheld by the tribunal. The new maximum amount will make sure that the tribunal is better able to redress unfair conduct or poor service by energy and water providers in the ACT.
The second set of amendments in this bill will help improve the way courts are able to manage their important work. One example in this bill is an amendment to the Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1991, which clarifies and simplifies the process for ACT courts to take evidence using audiovisual links or audio links, including overseas and interstate. This sensible change was recommended to government by the court. It will support the efficient conduct of trials by leveraging proven technology to allow the ACT justice system to be globally connected. When considering whether evidence can be provided from a place outside the ACT, courts will weigh up the benefit of reduced cost and delay in the conduct of the proceedings with any impact on procedural fairness to the parties, to determine whether it is in the interests of justice.
Fair treatment for juries and people who are called to serve as jurors is critically important in the justice system. This bill makes amendments to the Juries Act 1967 to better support jurors in their vital role in the justice system. Of particular note is that the bill will support the inclusion of people with a disability as jurors, better reflecting the diverse make-up of the Canberra community.
The amendments also simplify and remove red tape from the jury management process. The bill clarifies when jurors can be disqualified, and allows penalty notices to be issued for breaches of jury responsibilities. Jurors will also be allowed to make the oath or affirmation as part of a group rather than individually. These amendments