The Australian Centre for Justice Innovation (ACJI) at Monash University has released a new background report on the issue of timeliness in the justice system.
The aim of this work is to support the development of a framework for measuring, understanding and improving timeliness in the Australian justice system.
Director of ACJI, Professor Tania Sourdin, said the justice system was broad and what happens before people access the courts is important in terms of understanding delay.
"Often there is no systemic approach or understanding of delay," Professor Sourdin said.
There are some six to eight million complaints made in Australia each year, ranging from family, workplace and financial services to accident compensation matters.
While more than 600,000 dispute matters are dealt with outside the court system, the remainder are brought forward in court.
Professor Sourdin said delay in the system is the result of cultural factors as well as other reasons, including complexity.
"There have been many attempts to reduce the time taken to resolve disputes. However, some disputes can take months or years to resolve," Professor Sourdin said.
"The financial, social and emotional costs of resolving disputes escalate the longer they run. For many, justice delayed is justice denied."
The report develops a broad framework within which to examine timeliness across the entire justice system. It explores definitions and measures of timeliness in the justice system and examines the strategies and innovations that have been used both in Australia and internationally to improve timeliness.
"Time is a relative concept. We need a new approach in Australia to allow us to answer the key question of how long is too long for a dispute to be resolved," Professor Sourdin.
"We also need to make sure we make improvements using a solid evidence base and ensuring that people across the system receive quality outcomes in a reasonable timeframe."
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More information: www.law.monash.edu.au/centres/acji/projects/timeliness/