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AICC(WA)'s Legal Lunch featuring the Hon Wayne Martin AC, Chief Justice of Western Australia speaking on "Help or Hindrance - reforming the justice system to meet the needs of Modern Business"

Chief Justice Proffers Modernisation

The formidable intellect and legal knowledge of the Chief Justice, The Hon Wayne Martin AC, as described by host Tony Joyner, Managing Partner of Herbert Smith Freehills, was generously shared at the AICC(WA)’s annual legal lunch on Thursday 22 May 2014.

Addressing the topic “help or hindrance – reforming the justice system to meet the needs of modern business”, The Hon Chief Justice expertly facilitated an interactive account of his ambitions to improve the efficiency associated with Civil law administration.

Drawing on an ancient Rabbinic injunction that “justice delayed is justice denied”, The Hon Chief Justice posited that the Court system is judged by references to trial, but less than 3% of cases end up in resolution through this medium.  He challenged whether disputes are being sent to the correct place, and whether the structure of our current system optimises dispute resolution through more flexible and discretionary channels.  

Segmenting the structure of civil disputes that relate to either transactional, regulatory (compliance), or enforcement based litigation, Chief Justice submitted that mediation provides the capacity to find middle ground and deliver compromise in a manner that the Courts cannot.  He suggested that legal professionals need to focus more on the concepts of principle and simplicity and to move away from technicalities and uncertainty.  At the same time he acknowledged the role and importance of the Courts to deliver full transparency, to set standards of behaviour, and to further develop law through the establishment of precedent.  He noted that “contemporary Courts model themselves on arbitration techniques.  We must constantly bear in mind that mediation is a process, not an event.”    

The Hon Chief Justice drew out his audience robust discussion relating to three areas of focus for improvement, all areas of major change during his tenure.  The first was the use of Information Communications Technology to manage process, information and records.  The second was to utilise Case Management to obtain resolution before trial, in particular to manage legal discovery.  Finally, Chief Justice cited the use of mediation as critical to the efficiency of the Justice system, to the extent that he advocated for mediation to be further offered through the Court system. 

The AICC(WA) legal event was sponsored by Edith Cowan University.  Professor Ann Wallace, Head of the School of Law and Justice acknowledged The Chief Justice’s commitment to law reform, community service, and his advocacy of access to justice by all citizens.  In proposing a vote of thanks, Vice-Chancellor Professor Kerry O. Cox reiterated that we all depend on the rule of law and acknowledged the challenge that Chief Justice offered for the legal fraternity to deliver civil justice in an effective and efficient manner in order for the system to remain accessible.


Legal Lunch Report