Law Reform Commission of Western Australia
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Project 92 - Review of the criminal and civil justice system in Western Australia

Project No. 92

Commenced: 1997
Completed: 1999

The reference arose because of the increasing volume and complexity of demands on Western Australia’s judicial system and, in particular, increases in the time and resources consumed by the litigation process. It was felt that the laws, procedures and practices relating to criminal trials and civil litigation ought to be examined and the standards of, and requirements for, a fair and equitable judicial system (including trials and related court proceedings) must be maintained. The Commission was required to make recommendations to provide for a more accessible, less complex, faster and less expensive justice system.

This vast and complex topic is the most far-reaching reference the Commission has received in its 30 year history. Because the Commission had a relatively short time to complete its comprehensive review it was necessary to transform both the operations of the Commission and its approach to law reform.

Terms of Reference

In 1997 the Commission was given a broad reference to:

  • Examine and report on the criminal and civil justice systems in Western Australia including the role of the legal profession and other dispute resolution professionals and other mechanisms for the resolution of disputes.
  • Seek to identify the reasons for and processes by which the increase on the demands upon resources comes about.
  • Make recommendations as to what changes are necessary or desirable to provide a more accessible legal system, a less complex and more simplified criminal and civil justice system, more efficient and cost-effective methods for resolving civil and criminal cases, prompt and inexpensive dispute resolution, reductions in the cost of litigation and the removal of unnecessary delay in and abuse of the legal system.

Outcomes

In March 2000 the Attorney General announced the formation of a Steering Committee within the Ministry of Justice and a Reference Committee, composed of key stakeholders, to implement the Commission’s recommendations as part of an overall Justice System Review. In its 1999-2000 Annual Report the Ministry of Justice indicated that several recommendations had already been progressed.

The Justice System Review was dissolved with the change of government following the election and the closure of the Policy and Legislation Division of the Ministry (now Department of Justice) in 2001. Implementation of the Commission’s recommendations has continued within the Court Services Division of the Department of Justice.

In 2004, many of the recommendations were implemented primarily by the Criminal Procedure Act 2004 (WA) and the Criminal Procedure and Appeals (Consequential and Other Provisions) Act 2004 (WA), as well as the Magistrates Court (Civil Proceedings) Act 2004 (WA) and the Magistrates Court (Civil Proceedings) Rules 2005.

Last updated: 31-Jan-2017

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