Policy Agenda

The Justice Project

The Law Council will be undertaking a comprehensive national review into the impediments to justice in Australia, focusing on those facing significant social and economic disadvantage in our community. This work will culminate in a final report at the end of November 2017, following a literature review and consultation process.

The Law Council believes that the system which delivers access to justice should be:

The Law Council is concerned that many Australians simply ‘fall through the cracks’ of the justice system. If you’ve fallen on difficult times and you aren’t well off, too often you’re on your own, unable to get legal help you need.

Each year, one in four Australians will experience a legal problem substantial enough to require a lawyer. However, some sections of the community are much more vulnerable than others. Less than one-tenth of people account for approximately two-thirds of legal problems.

For many, their problems are left unresolved. Over time, these complaints can escalate, with serious consequences to people’s health, finances and relationships.

The Law Council has consistently expressed its strong concerns about the poor state of funding for legal assistance services in Australia, which are critical to providing access to justice for those who cannot afford a lawyer. In fact, this situation will probably get worse, not better.

The President of the Law Council of Australia, Fiona McLeod SC, said that “access to justice is a bedrock principle for our society and a means of protecting, promoting and defending the rule of law and human rights of all people. It is a core tenet of our modern democracy, yet unfortunately there are many who are missing out. A person’s formal right to justice and equal treatment before the law is of no value if he or she cannot effectively access the legal system or secure protection of basic rights. Whether it is the pressures upon court resourcing and long backlogs, lack of access to legal advice or representation, or laws and practices that compound unfairness, the inequity experienced by many can have a devastating impact upon their lives.”

This means that it is more important than ever to understand how our most vulnerable people experience access to justice issues, and what more needs to be done. That is why the Law Council will undertake The Justice Project in 2017.

What will the Project do?

Steering Committee Membership

Former Chief Justice of the High Court, the Hon Robert French AC, will chair the Steering Committee along with other experts.

See full list here.

Terms of Reference

You can view the full terms of reference of the Justice Project here.

Reporting date

End of November 2017.

Register your interest

If you would like to register your interest in this project, please contact: justiceproject@lawcouncil.asn.au.


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