Page 2609 - Week 07 - Thursday, 18 June 2009

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Answers to questions

Courts—litigant guidelines
(Question No 131)

Mrs Dunne asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 24 March 2009:

(1) How many reported breaches of the Model Litigant Guidelines were there for (a) 2004-05, (b) 2005-06, (c) 2006-07, (d) 2007-08 and (e) 2008-09 to date.

(2) What was the nature of those breaches outlined in part (1) and how were they dealt with.

(3) Were there any cases that resulted in disciplinary action; if so, what was the nature of the action taken.

(4) What processes are in place to ensure that government agencies, officials and other relevant persons and entities and Members of the Legislative Assembly are aware of their obligations under the Model Litigant Guidelines.

(5) What measures are in place to ensure that those outlined in part (4) comply with the guidelines.

(6) Who takes responsibility for the behaviour of those outlined in part (4) vis-à-vis the guidelines.

Mr Corbell: The answer to the member’s question is as follows:

(1) The Territory adopted the Model Litigant Guidelines by a policy decision in 2004.

The Guidelines apply to all “civil claims and civil litigation” involving the Territory, including litigation before all courts and tribunals and alternative dispute resolution.

They are modeled on the Model Litigant Guidelines of the Commonwealth which were developed in respect of an outsourced model of legal services for government. Accordingly, while the primary responsibility for compliance rests with each agency, separate responsibility is placed on legal practitioners, whether public or private.

The Guidelines were written before the decision to centralise the provision of legal services.

Under the Government Solicitor Act 1989, and subsequent decisions by the Government particularly in 2006, the ACT Government Solicitor (ACTGS) has primary responsibility for all litigation on behalf of the Territory. The conduct of litigation (or any other legal service) may only now be outsourced with the agreement of the Chief Solicitor. All persons conducting litigation on behalf of the Territory within the Government Solicitor are ultimately responsible, through the Chief Solicitor, to the Attorney General for their actions.

I am unaware of any formal reports from ACTGS or my Department relating to a breach of the Guidelines for the period 2004-2006 before services were centralised through ACTGS.

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