Commonwealth Attorney General refers to upcoming commencement of the Civil Dispute Resolution Act 2011

July 8, 2011 |

The Attorney General put out a press release announcing the impending operation of the Civil Dispute Resolution Act 2011.  The Bill’s homepage is here.  It provides:

Attorney-General Robert McClelland today said changes to Australia’s legal system from next month will fundamentally change the way people resolve issues in the federal courts.

“Australia’s legal system is changing.  We are moving away from an adversarial culture of litigation to a broader approach to dispute resolution,’ Mr McClelland said.

“This means greater opportunities for resolution, rather than a system that prioritises ‘winners and losers’.

“We no longer live in an age where the only proper way to settle a legal issue is through the courts.

“From 1 August, parties to a court action will be required to lodge a statement about the steps that they have taken to try and resolve their dispute when commencing proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia or in the Federal Magistrates Court, with some exemptions.

“The courts will always play a central role in our justice system, but it’s clear that launching into litigation is not always the best approach to resolving issues.

“Wherever possible, people need to be able to reach early resolution of their dispute, without escalating into court proceedings.  These new laws will ensure parties are given every encouragement and the best possible opportunity of doing so.

“Parties can benefit from exchanging information, narrowing the issues in dispute and exploring options for resolution leading to more matters being settled by agreement earlier on, before significant costs have been incurred and legal positions become entrenched.

“Even if matters progress to court, experience shows costs will be saved as the issues in dispute will be better understood and narrowed.

“Not all matters can be resolved before heading to court, and some do need the clarity of a judicial ruling.

“However, the Government firmly believes that considering resolution of disputes before court should be encouraged wherever possible.”

“The change doesn’t introduce mandatory processes that themselves could become the subject of dispute.

“Instead, it is deliberately flexible in allowing parties to tailor the steps they take to their individual circumstances and the particular nature of their dispute.”

Mr McClelland said he is pleased other jurisdictions are also moving towards a similar approach.

The Civil Dispute Resolution Act is an important part of the Government’s agenda under its Strategic Framework for Access to Justice to encourage early dispute resolution.

The Act implements key recommendations from the 2009 National Alternative Dispute Resolution Advisory Council (NADRAC) report, The Resolve to Resolve – Embracing ADR to Improve Access to Justice in the Federal Jurisdiction.

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