A million dollars for big ideas to boost access to justice

Published date: Thursday, 20 December 2018

People with new and tech-savvy solutions to improve access to justice will have the opportunity to have their ideas funded through a new grants program established by the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government. 

Attorney General Mark Speakman said the $1 million Access to Justice Innovation Fund is designed to encourage inventive ideas to increase access to justice for those who need it most. Up to $250,000 will be available each year for four years from the beginning of 2019. 

“Every year, nearly three million people in NSW experience a legal problem, 85 per cent of which are civil law issues. These can range from neighbourhood disagreements over trees or fences to contract disputes involving many millions of dollars,” Mr Speakman said. 
“Grants will be open to applicants such as legal professionals, community groups, coders and social entrepreneurs who have ideas for projects to improve the way legal problems are resolved, or to help people more easily navigate the justice system.” 
The fund is part of the Government’s Civil Justice Action Plan which has already delivered new guidelines to reduce local councils’ reliance on court action to recover unpaid rates. Such actions presently make up 30 per cent of Local Court civil matters. 

From early March 2019 individuals and small business in particular will benefit from being able to pursue and defend monetary claims of up to $20,000 in the Local Court, providing a quicker, less expensive means of resolving disputes. The current maximum claimable amount in the Local Court is $10,000. 

 “The Civil Justice Action Plan reinforces the Government’s commitment to improving access to civil justice, particularly for the vulnerable and disadvantaged,” Mr Speakman said. 

“The fund will focus on projects that demonstrate how technology or new methods of service delivery can support small business and people who are experiencing social and economic disadvantage to resolve legal problems.” 

The Department of Justice will begin accepting applications in January 2019, for further information please email [email protected] The Civil Justice Action Plan is available at www.justice.nsw.gov.au/civiljusticeactionplan

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