Friday, 21 November 2008

Law council backs Family Court merger plan

The Law Council of Australia has backed recommendations to revamp family law by integrating the Family Court with the Family Law Division of the Federal Magistrates Court.

A Commonwealth report, released by the Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland, has recommended the Federal Magistrates Court be merged with the Family Court to simplify family law matters and save money.

The Law Council says the current arrangements are "totally unacceptable" because two courts with largely identical jurisdiction are running separate administrations and competing for funds.

Legal Consultant Des Semple, who wrote the report, says the current system is too confusing.

"What the public wants is a one-stop shop so that when they file, they are filing with one court, and not potentially filing with two courts," Mr Semple said.

"You can circumstances where one of the parties in separation is filing with the Family Court and one is filing with the Federal Magistrates Court, which obvioulsy creates very considerable confusion even before you get down to the matters of the children or the property."

Mr McClelland yesterday said changes do need to be made and the Government is considering the recommendations.

"Virtually all the submissions that came into the inquiry, other than from the Federal Magistrates, was that something had to be done to get around the inefficiencies and confusion, and unfortunately instances of disputation between the two courts," he said.

"So we do have to do something and we're consulting on that."


Poor pay sees lawyers stop legal aid work
The Law Institute of Victoria is predicting that the state's court system will be overloaded with unrepresented clients because of inadequate funding for legal aid.

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