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The Hon. Robert French AC speaks on access to justice and the Justice Project

17 October 2018

Former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia and Chair of the Law Council’s Justice Project Steering Committee, the Honourable Robert French AC, spoke about the Justice Project at the International Criminal Law Congress, which was held in Byron Bay on 3-7 October 2018. He emphasised that before the substantive law is engaged, ‘equal justice requires access to justice’.

Mr French provided a detailed overview of the Law Council’s Justice Project final report, noting that it would ‘provide a platform for systemic advocacy for improvement to access to justice.’

He outlined its key recommendations, including its proposed Justice Impact Test, as well as examples of the human cost of a lack of access to justice. Commending the report to the legal profession, Mr French concluded that:

‘Chronic and institutionalised lack of access to justice is not just a problem of fairness. It is a problem that goes to societal order and stability. It is also a problem that ends up, if not addressed, generating far more costs, economic and non-economic, to society than ought to be the case’.

Mr French also criticised laws imposing mandatory minimum sentences as the most egregious examples of rules which impose formal equality before the law, but which carry the risk of compromising equal justice.

The Justice Project Final Report is available here. The Law Council’s policy on mandatory minimum sentences is available here.

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