Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Justices of the Peace to conduct civil hearings in Australia
The Queensland, Australia Attorney General has introduced a trial period where select Justices of the Peace will conduct certain civil hearings. Justices of the Peace selected had applied for the trial and underwent particular training. The hearings will essentially consist of civil small claims where the amount claimed in less than $5000. The purpose of this trial is to ascertain whether using Justices of the Peace can alleviate the backlog and delays of small claims no longer heard by Magistrates. The Queensland Civil Administration Tribunal (QCAT) is the new authority now hearing all small claims in addition to a myriad of other matters previously heard over a plethora of independent tribunals. Authority for the use of Justices of the Peace in QCAT was achieved with recent amendments to the QCAT Act. Justice Departments around Australia will be monitoring the success of this trial to gauge whether it can be adopted to address similar needs of other States.