Justice

1300 975 994

Well, maybe not kill, but definitely need to reform! (& replace with automated algorithms)
(His / their words, not mine!  I saw this advert on Facebook.)

See here: http://openforum.com.au/justice-reform-strategy or JusticeReformStrategy.pdf attached below, which also has an appendix that lists specific examples of absurd and inefficient legal/court system practices (still being collated).


The current legal system is a disgracefully inefficient closed shop, full of restrictive medieval practices that destroys families and small businesses who don't have the time or money to achieve justice. Australian Family Courts are now in meltdown, with especially acute consequences for families suffering domestic violence. Waiting times extend to years, and even "interim hearings" are hamstrung by the courts' own rules preventing judges making any "finding' on a disputed matter - or a consequential decision - until a "final hearing", so by the time anyone gets to a final hearing it's too late as the children have grown up and already been psychologically damaged. Nothing seems to be enforced anyway; for example if a women obstructs a father's contact with his children (a form of DV), instead of the Police arresting her for breaking Family Court orders, the man has to apply, wait for, and of course pay lawyers for a "contravention order" hearing, and by the time that happens the issue is history and often ignored.


Archaic & self-serving court processes are the heart of the problem and need fundamental reform.

Judges seem more concerned with pedantic adherence to their outdated & inefficient processes, documentation rules & protocols than with making common-sense good decisions for society.  The court system's rules generate more work for itself & lawyers, to the detriment of others, by artificially segregating related "matters" into separate "hearings", often in different courts (for example, separating property, parenting & DV / AVO matters in family breakdowns, unlike in New Zealand), and then excludes relevant information from each matter on technical grounds, rather than adopting an efficient, holistic approach to the overall situation. Judges then actively suppress relevant, anecdotal or contextual information & drag things out through extended court processes - putting their heads in the sand to deny the fact we now live in an educated & connected society where jury members can & will see information on the internet & other media sources and are quite capable of deciding for themselves whether to believe it! And the system creates more work for lawyers and denies justice to those who self-represent, because lazy judges rarely do anything to actively find out information on a case, nor even to determine what laws should be considered - they merely sit high and mighty at their bench and only consider what evidence and legal arguments are put to them by lawyers during proceedings (and the proceedings themselves are a pantomime, where theatrical performances by overconfident barristers carry more weight than actual evidence). Judges routinely show little more than contempt for other people's time and money, insisting on court appearances for trivial procedural matters (like a "mention", when all the judge does is look at his/her diary and decide when he'll actually properly consider the case), and in a recent astounding case, making parties listen to a judgement for 17 hours over 4 days!  Sure he got "rebuked" by his superiors ("Tut tut, naughty boy"), but after multiple similar incidents, why is he still in such a position of authority? And what sort of uncountable system gives a permanent appointment to someone like this in the first place?  If judges got out from behind their benches and actually went into the community to do their job, they could at least sometimes form immediate judgements based on first-hand evidence and avoid months or years of delays, costs and avoidance of justice.


Yet the courts are in total denial and simply demand more money for their restrictive-practices gravy-train.

Time & again they have refused to change, despite a long history of inquiries recognising the Family Court's failure to act in the genuine long-term interests of children.

Other courts are little better.

Further, other related professions such as lazy lawyers & court "experts" exploit the secrecy and dysfunctional slowness of courts to push clients through a never-ending cycle of expensive legal process, with little hope of ever achieving justice.

Many parts of the system are simply corrupt (e.g. psychiatrists charging $12-$20k for about a day's work that produces sloppy or corrupt court reports/evidence).

I think the purpose of the secrecy of Family Court proceedings must be to protect the corrupt industry, because the (in)security of their document management is a joke and anyone can wander into a court and listen to proceedings!

But the problems for society go well beyond the delays, cost and injustice within courts, as these failures in turn cause even bigger knock-on consequences & costs such as:

  • Overwhelmed child protection workers spending excessive time on court processes instead of actually helping families (& being realistically unable to seek court orders to help the vast majority of children in need because of time & cost constraints).
  • Many domestic disputes can't be resolved, even with Police intervention, because the cost of addressing issues in court can't be justified.
  • The entire bureaucratic & inflexible, process-driven Child Support Agency, which legislation shows was only established to try & avoid the even greater inefficiency of court processes, but now contributes in no small part to parental alienation (contravening Australia's obligations as a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which should be legally enforced) and alarming levels of male suicide in Australia.
  • Similarly, the "deliberately misunderstood" debate about section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, fails to recognise that we only have a Human Rights Commission to try & avoid the cost & inefficiency of court processes (or that an efficient court system would take into account concerns for free speech, which is protected by 18D of the same Act!).
  • Small businesses unable to practically protect their intellectual property rights in court against deep-pocketed thieves - thus reducing innovation and productivity growth in the economy.
  • The Family Court blocking the licensing of patented intellectual property because the distribution of earnings might not be fair to the ex wife (yes, this really happens!).
  • Landlords mistreating tenants who don't have the time or money to take court action.
  • The excessive cost of armies of contract lawyers required to get private sector innovation in government services through Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), when these contracts are only really done to try and reduce the risk of even costlier court action and are otherwise disregarded in the practical operation of any successful 'partnership'. The consequences of these legal cost barriers are less PPPs, less innovation in public services and hence poorer public services & more waste for taxpayers to fund.

I could go on….

I find it astounding that public debate of these matters fails to see that all these problems (& many more) are ultimately caused by our dysfunctional courts.

- it's time we tackled the source of these problems!


While there is increasing attention on artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms that can already enhance &/or automate some of the more mundane and laborious tasks currently undertaken by lawyers, and which ultimately may even automate quite complex judgments (see Report: artificial intelligence will cause “structural collapse” of law firms by 2030), there is huge potential to improve efficiencies just by simplifying and eliminating currently archaic legal processes and using basic information technology to replace paper systems and automate information management & administration.


However, whilst a huge amount of bureaucracy can and should be eliminated immediately (with basic software systems, email etc.), governments are not very good at innovation and continuous improvement (possibly because so many politicians are useless, argumentative lawyers). So we need a more dynamic and competitive system that is responsive to community needs and constantly innovates and improves. Such a system needs to be guided by a new legislative legal framework that promotes a more balanced and less adversarial system - one that instead:

  • actively seeks to discover the truth and views all related matters and context in a single, holistic way (e.g. AVOs & all Family Court property & parenting matters);

  • dismantles barriers to competition & self-representation, such as incomprehensible 'legal-ese' language;

  • abolishes overly-­prescriptive regulations stipulating rigid court rules & processes, instead adopting a high-level "principles-based" legal framework that allows flexibility for courts to adjust to each case as warranted (for example, instead of rules preventing new evidence from being heard in an appeal, a principles-based law would focus on the desired objective of such rules and simply state that courts must ensure that any party to a dispute is not subjected to unwarranted and punitive extended litigation processes);

  • puts the welfare of kids first (which requires nothing less than replacing the current obsolete Family Court system & judicial culture with something completely new);

  • adopts a broader perspective to sentencing that takes into account all the disastrous long-term impacts of incarceration on individuals, their children (& future generations) and the whole of society, especially for Aboriginal communities;

  • And last but not least, offers the same human rights and access to efficient justice for all citizens of Australia!


The document attached below outlines how this can be achieved. The comprehensive review of the Family Law System and particularly the Parenting Management Hearings established by the Federal Government's 2017-18 Budget (expected to start in Parramatta in 2018) provide a good starting point for the reforms I propose, if these hearings expand quickly to offer parties choice of who investigates their case (and a fast, efficient, low-cost system is absolutely essential if self-represented alleged perpetrators are prevented from cross-examining dishonest accusers, as the Budget announcement also suggests). Of course the self-serving Law Council opposes this initiative and just wants the new funds to prop up their existing rort.

If judges are to hold the respect needed to oversee the fair and efficient application of society's laws, then they will need to accept the radical changes required.

Respect is earned, not enforced - this new law is a disgrace: http://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/disrespectful-behaviour-in-court-to-be-a-crime/

You have no honour, your Honour!





A lawyer named Strange passed away.  His friend asked the tombstone maker to inscribe on his tombstone, "Here lies Strange, an honest man, and a lawyer."
The inscriber insisted that such an inscription would be confusing, for a passer-by would tend to think that three men were buried under the stone.
However, he suggested an alternative - he would inscribe, "Here lies a man who was both honest and a lawyer."
That way, whenever anyone walked by the tombstone and read it, they would be certain to remark, "That's Strange."


And finally, for some challenging thoughts on men/Dads seeking justice through a system that routinely and increasingly tramples on their & their children's legal and human rights, and another hopeless Royal Commission report that will achieve nothing except worsen this (what else do you expect from judges?!), see my comments on DV.

Ċ
David Thorp,
17 Sep 2016, 07:14
Comments