Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (18 October) . . Page.. 1816 ..
MR CONNOLLY (continuing):
A program that has been in place for some years now in the ACT Attorney-General's Department is the law review program. As opposed to the law reform program, which tends to take the large and slightly more glamorous leaps forward in law reform, dealing with things like victims of crime and landlord and tenant law, the law review unit beavers away on some of these obscure areas and regularly brings forth into this Assembly, under successive governments, little Bills like this which address what has been seen to be a problem. In effect, this Bill will allow personal actions between parties who reside in the ACT even though those actions involve land which may be situated outside the ACT. It makes enormous sense to allow such actions to be brought. The old, really medieval law which prevented them was quite irrelevant. There have been attempts by the courts to resolve this; but, as is so often the case, the common law approach to reform can be slow and frustrating. It is appropriate for jurisdictions to legislate, and the Opposition supports this Bill.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (3.37), in reply: Mr Speaker, Mr Connolly has summarised the content of the Bill quite well and I will not add to anything he said. There was one issue raised by the Scrutiny of Bills Committee concerning possible retrospectivity entailed in this amendment to the legislation. The legislation provides that the law changes immediately the Bill is gazetted. That obviously means that some people with an action potentially in train, or about to be brought in the court, might have that action affected by the operation of this change. It has not been possible, from the best of our endeavours, to work out whether there are any such actions around. The rule in the Mozambique case is hardly one of the things that trip off most lawyers tongues each day as they pass through the courts in their legal life.
Mr Connolly: You do not keep a special registry of such matters?
MR HUMPHRIES: We do not have a special registry on applications under the Mozambique case rule. It is probably to do with government cutbacks, Mr Connolly. You could prepare a press release out of that if you want. Mr Speaker, even if there were such cases, I think it is very hard to determine whether the retrospective effect would be detrimental or beneficial. Clearly, the rule is a quaint, outdated and illogical rule which should be repealed. Just as it might possibly prevent from defending an action successfully on the basis of that rule somebody who otherwise should not be able to defend an action, similarly it gives other people who ought to have an action in our courts the right to bring that action. In the hypothetical sense that there are some people out there who are affected by this change in the law, these people deserve to have the situation remedied so that the law is logical and, as far as possible, delivers a just result. Clearly, the rule in this case has been unjust and illogical and should therefore be removed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill agreed to in principle.
Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.
Bill agreed to.