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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 10 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 2933 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Mr Speaker, I thank members for their comments. I hope that we can bring forward the Small Claims Tribunal Bill proper very soon. There are a couple of issues that we might want to deal with which are not dealt with in the exposure draft. Some members, including Ms McRae, have written to me about problems people have had in enforcing judgments in the court and also in obtaining a judgment and having the judgment set aside. There is a real problem with that, Mr Speaker. I indicate that I am inclined to propose that we should consider amending some of the provisions, particularly provisions dealing with the default judgment, to provide for some greater onus on a person seeking to set aside a default judgment to show that the basis on which the judgment should be set aside is stronger than it might now be.

At the moment it is the case that, when a person obtains a judgment in a court on a default basis, that is, without an appearance by a defendant, and the defendant subsequently decides that he or she does wish to defend the proceedings, it is pretty well automatic that the judgment obtained by a judgment creditor is set aside. I think, Mr Speaker, it ought to be the case that in having a judgment set aside the person against whom the judgment is being obtained ought to be put to some test to show not only that there was a good reason for not having defended the action in the first place, but also that there is some reasonable prospect that if the matter is heard fully by the court or the tribunal the action can be successfully defended. Otherwise we simply have a process where somebody goes through the motions of getting a judgment, starting to enforce the debt and then suddenly finding that the whole thing is back to square one because the judgment debtor has decided quite late in the process that he or she would like to defend the matter after all.

Other refinements can be brought forward at the appropriate time. I think we have basically the right formula - at least that is the interpretation I have of members' comments around the chamber - and I thank members for their comments about this important process.

Question resolved in the affirmative.




Debate resumed from 27 June 1996, on motion by Mr De Domenico:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SPEAKER: Is it the wish of the Assembly to debate this order of the day concurrently with order of the day No. 4, the Motor Traffic (Alcohol and Drugs) (Amendment) Bill 1996? There being no objection, that course will be followed. I remind members that in debating order of the day No. 3 they may also address their remarks to order of the day No. 4.

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