NSW Election: Bring the justice system into the 21st century with properly resourced courts


The peak body representing NSW’s 38,000 solicitors has urged all sides of state politics to commit to improving access to justice across our cities and the regions and to lock in efficiencies achieved through dealing with the COVID pandemic.

President of the Law Society of NSW Cassandra Banks says increased investment in court infrastructure, technology and more judicial officers is crucial to dealing effectively with delays, backlogs and ‘postcode justice’.

“Where a person lives should not determine whether they can access appropriate justice facilities. A lack of access in regional NSW imposes barriers to justice for local communities,” Ms Banks said.

“The remote working model, like that adopted across tens of thousands of workplaces during COVID, had enormous benefits to the justice system when used appropriately, allowing thousands of non-contested and case management proceedings to be completed efficiently and fairly.”

A survey of nearly 1,500 NSW solicitors conducted by the Law Society found that more than 90 percent wanted to retain the flexibility offered by the technology used during COVID.

“While some matters, including contested and complex matters need access to facilities to conduct face to face hearings, enormous cost savings are available to the courts and court users through the appropriate use of digital infrastructure including increased use of Audio-Visual Technology (AVL).” 

Ms Banks said the next NSW Government should pay particular attention to properly resourcing the Local Court of NSW and the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).

“These jurisdictions are the engine rooms of justice in NSW, where the overwhelming majority of criminal and civil cases are heard, but in many areas are struggling with desperately out of date paper-based systems” Ms Banks said.

“The Law Society remains concerned with the rising workload in the criminal court because recent increases in police resources have not been matched by increased resources to the courts.

“While NCAT has emerged from COVID restrictions in a relatively healthy position, greater investment in online technology and processes is needed to bring down the tribunal’s continuing and significant backlog and deliver services in a far more convenient format for our members’ clients – the public.”

Law Society encourages all parties and candidates contesting the NSW Election to commit to the principle that a strong, independent and properly resourced court system is essential to the proper administration of justice and the effective functioning of our democracy.

The Law Society of NSW’s 2023 Election Platform can be read here.