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SA courts consider flying in international judges for local cases

by June 9, 2016 General

A plan by South Australia’s chief justice to fly foreign judges in to hear local court cases is being supported by the State Government.

Chief Justice Chris Kourakis’s proposed changes would also involve sending local judges to other countries to gain experience in overseas court systems.

Attorney-General John Rau has proposed changes to legislation that would allow the exchange to occur between Australia and countries with similar legal systems.

“Singapore is the one that the chief justice mentioned specifically … they have a very well-respected court system in Singapore,” Mr Rau said.

“[But also] Canada, perhaps even the United States, places which have similar legal systems to ours would be the most obvious choices.”

But Opposition spokeswoman Vickie Chapman said the plan would be a waste of money that could be better spent improving South Australia’s court system.

She said it would potentially cost up to $4,000 a week to host an international judge here.

International judges an option for conflict of interest cases

“There’s a possibility of looking at legislative and judicial training from overseas countries, but as far as having fly-in fly-out judges all we’re doing is costing a lot of money and providing holidays for our judges,” Ms Chapman said.

“Our priority must be fixing up the court list, building proper courts and having a system that works here so that we can actually give accessible justice to people of South Australia.”

Mr Rau described the Opposition’s attack on the plan as “ludicrous”.

He said the move had merit, especially when local judges had a conflict of interest.

We frequently bring judges here from other states to deal with cases in those circumstances and nobody seems to be concerned about that, Mr Rau said.

The changes have been passed by the House of Assembly, and will now go before the Legislative Council.