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					Supreme Court

       To provide effective and timely adjudication of disputes, resolution of questions of law and
       fact, and other law-related services within the jurisdiction of the Court



Organisational Environment
       The Supreme Court comprises a Chief Justice, three resident Judges, nine additional Judges (each of whose
       primary commission is as a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia), and a Master who has broad jurisdiction in
       personal injuries matters.




       Alan Towill (Registrar) and Jill Circosta (Deputy Registrar) Supreme Court

       The Court consists of three main administrative units that answer directly to the Registrar of the Court. They are:

       Registry is responsible for maintaining up-to-date records of the Court, processing judgments and orders, listing
       cases and securing Court records.

       Sheriff’s Office is responsible for serving and executing the civil process of the Court, administering the jury
       system, court security and providing Court attendants.

       Russell Fox Library is the main legal research resource for the Supreme Court and the Magistrates Court.


Key Objectives
       Provide efficient and timely adjudication of disputes, and resolution of law and fact and related services within
       the Court’s jurisdiction.

       Provide greater focus on the needs of litigants before the Court.


Key Achievements
       Completion and implementing of the computerised Criminal Case Management system.

       Favourable Benchmarking outcome.

       Significant progress on the review of practice and procedure by the Supreme Court Rules Committee.




                                                                                                      Year in Review 35
Highlights of 1998–99

Information Technology
          The Supreme Court Local Area Network (LAN) is now totally operating under the Common Operating
          Environment and with the exception of minor required upgrades, has completed the modernisation process as
          determined by the ACT Government.

          The Criminal Case Management system has been completely computerised and linked into the receipts module
          enabling payments to be recorded automatically against and deducted from amounts owing.

          Modifications to the Jury Management System have resulted in the streamlining of reports functions and juror
          payments.

          A Sentencing Database has been developed to allow comparative reporting, accurate cross-referencing of data
          and provision of statistics on crime types.

          A decision on a replacement library management system was nearing completion as at 30 June 1999. It is likely
          that the Court will move to ‘Strategy’ as part of a move to a whole-of-government system; that the catalogue
          will be hosted on an ACT Library Service As400 machine; and that the ACT Library Service will provide a
          bureau service to the Court.


Facilities Issues
          During the year in review expenditure was incurred to upgrade the airconditioning system in the ACT Law
          Courts building. These works will alleviate Occupational Health and Safety issues including heating and cooling
          problems experienced throughout the building and excessive background noise caused to some courtrooms by
          the existing airconditioning unit.

          Access to the Courts by people with disabilities remains a high priority and will be considered in detail in the
          context of the 2000–01 budget.


Benchmarking
          The Court participated in the benchmarking exercise for the financial year 1997–98, ie the 1999 Productivity
          Commission Review of Commonwealth/State Service Provision.

          Through participating in preparing the Report on Government Services 1999 the Court was able to point out
          that, in small jurisdictions such as the ACT, the overall size, nature, caseload and structure of the two-tiered
          Court system will have an adverse impact on performance outcomes. Despite these factors the comparative
          data demonstrates that the Court compares favourably in terms of performance and cost effectiveness with like
          Courts in other jurisdictions.

          The Court has continued to embrace case management practices and technology to improve its efficiency in
          the administration of justice.

          The Court begins reviewing the 1998–99 financial year in August, for the purpose of continuous annual
          benchmarking.


Corporate Overview
          The appointment of a joint Court Administrator was not finalised as at 30 June 1999. A review of the Bailiff’s
          and Sheriff’s Offices, with the view to amalgamation of duties, is being conducted. An initial report is expected
          by the end of August 1999.

          A tender process for providing sound recording and transcription services to the Court and other departmental
          agencies was commenced to ensure competitive pricing and quality of service. Tenders are currently being
          evaluated and an outcome is expected in the near future.




     36   ACT Department of Justice and Community Safety Annual Report 1998-99
Admission of Legal Practitioners
        During 1998–99, 127 people were admitted as legal practitioners in six ceremonies.

        A further 120 were admitted by the Mutual Recognition Scheme, having been admitted to practise elsewhere
        in Australia or New Zealand.


Supreme Court Rules Committee
        The Supreme Court Rules Committee provides advice to the Judges in accordance with their rule-making
        function pursuant to section 36 of the Supreme Court Act 1933.

        During the year the Rules Committee considered a wide range of matters including:

        • review of discovery, inspection and interrogatory procedures;

        • criminal rules;

        • caseflow management and directions hearings;

        • protocol for issuing non-party production notices;

        • outmoded, outdated or irrelevant procedures;

        • introduction of new court forms;

        • harmonisation of Corporation Law;

        • expert evidence;

        • electronic appeals; and

        • harmonisation of Supreme Court and Magistrate Court procedures.

        The Court acknowledges the valuable assistance provided to the Committee by the Law Society, the Bar
        Association and the Parliamentary Counsel’s Office.


Client Surveys
        Survey forms were distributed in the final quarter of the year to clients using the Russell Fox Library, Registry
        and the Sheriff’s Office. In response to survey questions relating to quality of staff and service delivery, 90 per
        cent of responses rated them good or better. This is an excellent result which reflects the staff’s commitment to
        client service.


Russell Fox Library
        The Russell Fox Library maintains a collection of 45,000 volumes housed mostly within the ACT Law Courts
        Building. The Supreme Court collection is accessible to the public for reading, and material may be borrowed
        for use in Court. The majority of readers are private practitioners. During the year 4,400 book loans were
        recorded.

        The ongoing provision of library resources free of charge, including the cost of subscriptions and books, to the
        Magistrates Court equated to a third of the Library’s annual administrative budget without any staff salary
        considerations. The Supreme Court is unable to sustain this significant drain on resources without either
        appropriate cost recovery or the provision of additional financial resources.


Court Tours
        The Sheriff’s Officers conducted 38 court tours and lectures for high schools and colleges. Each was of
        approximately 25 minutes duration. A total of 1,016 students attended.




                                                                                                       Year in Review 37
1999–2000 Targets
         In 1999–2000 the Supreme Court aims to:

         • continue improving service delivery;

         • advance development of a single Courts Administration;

         • computerise monitoring of payments of Court fines, penalties and levies;

         • redesign and finalise the Supreme Courts Internet Home Page; and

         • introduce the new library management system.

         Sheriff ’s Office Workload

                                                                                    1997–98   1998–99

         Court Sitting days                                                             227       235
         Court Sittings                                                               1,004     1,059
         Persons summonsed for Jury duty                                              1,307     1,670
         Notices of trial and sentence served                                           154       166
         Number of other processes served on behalf of other jurisdictions              116       104
         Number of properties seized and handed over to mortgagee                        24        17
         Number of levies made under Writs of Fi Fa                                       6        12
         Number of Jury trials held                                                      30        38
         Number of writs of delivery and writs of attachment                              0         0
         Number of auctions held for Goods levied                                         0         1




Contact Officer
         For inquiries in relation to this section of the report, please contact:

         Ms Ruth Hawkings
         Phone: (02) 6267 2803 or
         Email: Ruth_Hawkings@dpa.act.gov.au




    38   ACT Department of Justice and Community Safety Annual Report 1998-99

				
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