Queensland Law Society media release
Queensland Law Society is concerned about the decision to trial Justices of the Peace (Qualified) to preside with legally experienced Justices of the Peace over certain QCAT matters.
The proposed change is contained in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (Justices of the Peace) Amendment Bill 2013, recently introduced in Queensland Parliament.
President Annette Bradfield said only legally qualified and experienced Justices of the Peace – a proposed new type of JP – and Justices of the Peace (Magistrates) should be involved in determining QCAT matters such as minor civil disputes.
“There is an enormous difference between the current JP types, as JP (Quals) perform good community service by witnessing documents for people and JP (Mags) are predominately legal practitioners who have a working knowledge of the law,” Ms Bradfield said.
“JP (Mags) and the proposed legally qualified and experienced JPs understand legal procedure, how to assess evidence, make directions and orders for third parties and decide settlement.
“JP (Quals), however, are more accustomed to procedural certification and witnessing.
“The Queensland Law Reform Commission, in its report ‘The role of Justices of the Peace in Queensland’ also acknowledged that the exercise of Court powers be limited only to JP (Mags).
“The term ‘minor civil dispute’ in QCAT matters doesn’t mean that the matters aren’t legally challenging.