The committee recommends that the Australian Government
commission or undertake research to develop quantitative data and qualitative
evidence on the effect of federal court fee settings on the behaviour of
disputants and on broader access to justice issues, in order to better inform
policy development in this area.
The committee recommends that, prior to any future changes to federal
court fee settings, and keeping in mind that budgetary decisions are ultimately
a matter for government, relevant stakeholders from the courts and the legal
profession should be given adequate opportunity to present their views on these
matters to the Australian Government. These stakeholders should include:
the High Court of Australia, the Federal Court of Australia, the Federal
Circuit Court of Australia, and the Family Court of Australia;
the Law Council of Australia;
- National Legal Aid;
- National Association of Community Legal Centres;
representatives from the pro bono legal sector in Australia; and
- other relevant legal experts.
The committee recommends that the qualifying threshold for
financial hardship exemptions under the Guidelines for exemption of court
fees be reviewed. If necessary, the guidelines should be amended in order
to ensure that the threshold for financial hardship exemptions does not inhibit
the ability of individuals to access redress through the courts.
The committee recommends that consideration be given to
appropriately amending the application form for exemption from paying court
fees used in the Federal Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of
Australia, to remove any ambiguity concerning the ability of clients of
Community Legal Centres prescribed under the Legal Aid Schemes and Services Approval
2013 to access a fee exemption.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government undertake
a review of the schemes and services listed in the Legal Aid Schemes and
Services Approval 2013, and update the Approval as necessary, to ensure that
all eligible legal aid providers are appropriately listed under the Approval.
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