McCarthy Appointed to ACAT

Local Barrister Geoffrey McCarthy of Blackburn Chambers has been appointed as a Presidential member of ACAT with a term to expire in December 2022.

Along with the appointment of Mr McCarthy, the Attorney-General announced the appointment of Mary-Therese Daniel as a Presidential Member and Robert Orr PSM QC and Professor Peta Spender were appointed as acting presidential members.

Geoffrey McCarthy worked with the ACT Government Solicitor until he joined the bar 12 years ago and the Attorney-General has cited his strong community focus and strong leadership abilities as key attributes that will assist him in performing his Presidential duties.

Mr Orr, Ms Therese-Daniel and Professor Spender are currently on the ACAT and the re-appointments until 2022 and 2023 respectively are considered a show of confidence in their previous performance in the role.

As the Tribunal aims for quick and cheap delivery of justice outcomes, it regularly relies on its Presidential Members to step in to handle larger and more complex cases during times of greater case load.

Read the AG’s press release here if so inclined.


Happy Birthday Austlii: 6 Facts

Last week Austlii celebrated finally being able to drink in Japan, get married in Thailand and play Roulette in New Zealand.

As Austlii celebrates it’s 20th birthday, Lawyers from around Australia begrudgingly listen to their seniors talking of the day when they had to run over to the court library, beg friends at bigger firms or pretend to still be a student when they desperately needed to look up some case law last minute.

For the uninitiated, Austlii is an online legal database that catalogues journals, decisions and legislation from around Australia and provides it free to the public. Austlii is offically the Australasian Legal Information Institute and is maintained by the UTS and UNSW law faculties, though it is funded by donations from around Australia including the ANU, the ACT Law Society and private practitioners from around Canberra.

Austlii is part of a broader free access to law movement along with 34 other organisations providing similar services in their various parts of the world.

So, happy birthday Austlii and lets look at some fun facts:

  1. Austlii receives over 600,000 page hits everyday
    (so presumably 600,001).
  2. Austlii receives about 30% of all legal database traffic in Australia.
  3. It costs approx $1m to run each year and relies on over 250 organisations including Universities (~30%), law societies and law firms (~30%)  and corporate sponsors and individual gifts for the rest.
  4. One of the biggest donors is a legal insurance firm which believes Austlii is the best prevention for negligence amongst small firms.
  5. Austlii doesn’t index cases with search engines to protect the privacy of those involved.
  6. Over 700 different legal publications are regularly catalogued.


Historical ACT Fines Easily Challenged

A “computer glitch” usually refers to the person operating it.

ACT Policing recently announced that more than 1500 motorists received up to 8 year old traffic infringement notices as a result of a “computer glitch”.

CT: “Computer Glitch” blamed as ACT drivers forced to pay old traffic fines

Motorists face suspension of their licences if they fail to pay the fines and many recipients are understandably outraged.

Kamy Saeedi Law has labelled the AFP and RTA actions as “likely unlawful” recently on local radio and in the Canberra Times.

At least one such ticket has already been successfully challenged prior to the breaking of the news that over 7000 such historical tickets were re-issued. The government “revealed the advice the RTA has received confirms the pursuit of these matters years later is unreasonable”.

As the arguments for challenging the tickets relates to ongoing client cases I cannot comment directly at this stage how the tickets can be successfully challenged but the crux of the argument rests on procedural fairness and the broad principles of Criminal or Administrative Law…
or you know…the vibe.

“It goes against basic principles of criminal justice to make an accused person prove they should not be forced to pay the fine,”

Any recipient is free to challenge the ticket on their own but the surest way is to contact a criminal lawyer to avoid any potential loss of licence.