Tabled in Parliament Date:
In May 2004, the Attorney-General issued a Justice Statement indicating directions for reform of Victoria’s justice system. The statement’s concerns in civil justice included the need to streamline litigation processes, reduce costs and delays, and achieve uniformity across different courts. Subsequently, in 2006, the Attorney-General asked the Commission to identify objectives and principles that should guide the reform of civil procedure to make it quicker, cheaper and fairer.
Conducted under the guidance of full-time Commissioner Professor Peter Cashman, the review produced a consultation paper in September 2006, from which 62 submissions were received.
A draft of reform proposals released in June 2007 received 32 responses, while a further set of proposals released in September 2007 received 19 responses. The Commission also consulted widely and visited many courtrooms to observe Victorian civil justice in practice.
We identified a number of ‘priority’ areas for detailed investigation, which were examined in light of key goals of the civil justice system. We also considered existing jurisdiction, workload and organisation of the courts, and many other factors.
In the final report tabled in Parliament on 28 May 2008, the Commission made 177 reform recommendations to reduce the cost, complexity and length of civil trials.
The report suggests areas for future law reform and identifies changes which will reduce the cost, complexity and length of civil trials. The major recommendations included:
- the introduction of, and future expansion of, pre-action requirements for communication and exchange of information
- improving the standards of conduct of participants in civil litigation
- more alternative dispute resolution
- facilitating more proactive judicial management of litigation
- new mechanisms to facilitate earlier and more cost effective methods of disclosure
- enhancing judicial control over expert witnesses and expert evidence
- improving remedies in class actions
- greater assistance to self-represented litigants
- more funding for interpreter services in civil proceedings
- curtailing unmeritorious claims and defences and vexatious litigation
- greater access to justice through the establishment of a new funding body – the Justice Fund
- rationalising costs
- ongoing civil justice review and reform including through the establishment of a new body – the Civil Justice Council.
- Terms of reference received
- Submissions and consultations
- Submissions closed
- Final Report
- Tabled in parliament