On 8 September 2011, the New South Wales Parliament passed the
Courts and Other Legislation Further Amendment Bill2011(Bill). The Bill will bring into
effect a lengthy postponement of up to 18 months of new
legislation, requiring parties to take reasonable steps to seek to
resolve a dispute before court proceedings are commenced.
The new legislation, contained in Part 2A of the Civil
Procedure Act 2005 (NSW), was due to apply to proceedings
commenced on or after 1 October 2011. It is designed to encourage
early resolution of disputes by imposing requirements for parties
to take reasonable steps, before they commence court proceedings,
to seek to resolve their dispute or to narrow the issues that are
in dispute between them.
In his initial announcement of the postponement on 23 August
2011 and during an Agreement in Principle speech regarding the Bill
on 26 August 2011, the Attorney General has made it clear that the
purpose of the postponement is to enable the NSW Government to
monitor and evaluate the success of similar provisions which
recently commenced in the Federal Court and Federal Magistrates
Court. Those provisions are the genuine steps requirements
contained in the Civil Dispute Resolution Act 2011
The Attorney General expects that the evaluation by the NSW
Government of the success of the new federal court requirements
will take approximately 12 to 18 months, with the Bill allowing for
the reforms to commence on 1 April 2013 or on any earlier date the
Government sets by proclamation.
Addressing the reason for the postponement in his Agreement in
Principle speech regarding the Bill, the Attorney General named
"senior members of the judiciary, the legal profession and
industry groups" as stakeholders who despite supporting
the overall intent of the legislation, have raised concerns since
the March 2011 election regarding the potential effects of the new
requirements. The Attorney General indicated that the concerns held
by these stakeholders are that the reforms will increase costs and
delays involved in resolution of disputes for the parties involved
in disputes and for the courts.
In relation to the long term future of the reforms, the Attorney
General noted that the Government does not propose that Part 2A be
repealed at this time and that it "remains supportive of
the overarching policy objectives" of the legislation. It
is clear that a decision about implementing the reforms will be
made within the next 18 months.
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This was an interlocutory decision about the appointment of a tutor for the child appellant, to carry on his proceedings.
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