The NSW Government has launched a free online legal service to help people overcome mortgage pressure and settle rates debts with local councils without the stress of court proceedings, Attorney General Mark Speakman announced today.
- Creating a $1 million Access to Justice Innovation Fund to encourage legal professionals, digital experts and community groups to develop ideas to improve the way legal problems are solved, particularly for vulnerable people and small business owners. Starting in 2019, the fund will provide up to $250,000 in grants annually for the next four years.
- Almost $20 million in new funds for community legal centres over the next four years.
- Expanding online court services to allow more people to finalise their cases from the convenience of their computer. This will make the court process more accessible, especially for people in rural and regional areas, and small business owners who can’t afford to shut up shop to go to court.
- Increasing the jurisdiction of the Local Court’s Small Claims Division to hear disputes valued up to $20,000 from $10,000. This reform, to take effect in March 2019, will give more people access to simpler court procedures, helping small businesses avoid drawn-out legal battles.
- Introducing online guidelines to encourage state and local government to resolve unpaid debts early, including by negotiating time to pay arrangements.
“The Civil Justice Action Plan has huge potential to reduce stressful and costly legal headaches – particularly for small businesses that are the engine room of the NSW economy,” Mr Speakman said.