Public Law, No Disgrace in Australia but Room for Improvements

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Abstract

[Extract]
Writing recently Tom Hickman raised the vital issue that fear of an adverse cost order can prevent potential applicants from seeking judicial review in UK courts with serious consequences for diminishing access to justice. He labelled it “public law’s disgrace” which it undoubtedly is. His calls for reform are necessary and should be supported by the broad public law community.

Hickman’s blog post prompted a reflection and assessment of the state of public law in Australia. Again, in Australia the issue of the impact of adverse costs orders is crucial and more needs to be done on that issue. There have been some encouraging developments though. In one Australian State jurisdiction with a judicial review statute, important provisions concerning costs have been inserted. But more centrally, the role that merits review in tribunals can play in terms of enhancing access to justice must be proclaimed. Tribunals are cheaper to apply to compared with courts, plus resolve matters faster and adverse costs orders are not typically experienced there.

In summary, the public law landscape in Australia is not the disgrace that Hickman considers the UK to be but neither can Australia claim to have attained perfection and there remains room for improvement.
Original languageEnglish
JournalUK Constitutional Law Association Blog
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2017

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