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Access to justice arrangements

Public inquiry

This inquiry has concluded. The final report was sent to Government on 5 September 2014 and publicly released on 3 December 2014.

The release of the final report by the Government is the next step in the process. Under the Productivity Commission Act 1998, the Government is required to table the report in each House of the Parliament within 25 sitting days of receipt.

When the Government releases the report, a copy will be available for download from the inquiry website.

The Australian Government has asked the Commission to undertake a 15-month inquiry into Australia's system of civil dispute resolution, with a focus on constraining costs and promoting access to justice and equality before the law.

In particular, the Commission should have regard to:

  • real costs of legal representation and trends over time
  • level of demand for legal services
  • factors that contribute to the cost of legal representation in Australia
  • whether the costs charged for accessing justice services and for legal representation are generally proportionate to the issues in dispute
  • the impact of the costs of accessing justice services, and securing legal representation, on the effectiveness of these services
  • economic and social impact of the costs of accessing justice services, and securing legal representation
  • impact of the structures and processes of legal institutions on the costs of accessing and utilising these institutions, including analysis of discovery and case management processes
  • alternative mechanisms to improve equity and access to justice and achieve lower cost civil dispute resolution, in both metropolitan areas and regional and remote communities, and the costs and benefits of these
  • reforms in Australian jurisdictions and overseas which have been effective at lowering the costs of accessing justice services, securing legal representation and promoting equality in the justice system
  • data collection across the justice system that would enable better measurement and evaluation of cost drivers and the effectiveness of measures to contain these.

The Commission will report within fifteen months of receipt of the Terms of Reference and will consult publicly.