In September 2006, the Attorney-General asked the Commission to review the civil justice system in Victoria under the following terms of reference:
1. To identify the overall objectives and principles of the civil justice system that should guide and inform the rules of civil procedure; having regard to the aims of the Attorney-General’s Justice Statement: New directions for the Victorian Justice System 2004–2014, and in particular:
- the modernisation, simplification and harmonisation of the rules of civil procedure within and across jurisdictions
- the reduction of the cost of litigation
- the promotion of the principles of fairness, timeliness, proportionality, choice and transparency, quality, efficiency and accountability.
2. To identify the key factors that influence the operation of the civil justice system, including those factors that influence the timeliness, cost and complexity of litigation.
3. To consult with the courts, the legal profession, business, government and other stakeholders on the current performance of the civil justice system and potential options for reform.
4. The review should consider the operation of the rules of civil procedure in the Supreme Court, the County Court and the Magistrates’ Court.
5. The review should have regard to recent reviews of civil procedure in other jurisdictions, both within Australia and internationally.
6. The review should also have regard to the impact of current policy initiatives on the operation of the civil justice system including the proposed increase in the jurisdiction of the County Court and investments in information technology such as an Integrated Courts Management System.
7. In presenting its report, the commission should identify areas of the civil justice system and rules of civil procedure that might form the basis of a later and more detailed review. Such areas may include, but are not limited to, the rules and practices relating to:
- pre-commencement options
- summary judgment
- expert witnesses
- class actions
- abuse of process
- alternative methods of dispute resolution, including alternative dispute resolution undertaken by judicial officers
- judicial role in case management and listing practices, including docketing systems.
8. The Commission should also identify the process by which the courts, the legal profession and other stakeholders may be fully involved in any further detailed review of the rules of procedure.
9. The Commission should report in 12 months from the date of commencement of the review.