Chief Justice Andrew Bell, the highest-ranking Judge in NSW, has stated that the caseloads of Magistrates throughout NSW are “unsustainable”. Some local courts caseloads have ballooned to over 140 matters per day, placing immense pressure and stress on probation officers, parole boards, and judges alike.

“Our Judges and Magistrates can only be stretched so far. And overstretched they are, both in terms of numbers and resourcing” he  said, “The pool of their undoubted goodwill and physical and emotional capacity is not infinitely deep.” … “The nature of an essential service is that society could not function without it. So, it is with the courts.”

 “The judiciary serves as an essential pillar of society. Without functioning courts, the fabric of our community would fray.”

Chief Justice Bell made the comments in a speech to the NSW Law Society’s annual Opening of the Law Term dinner in Sydney on Wednesday night.

 Solution is More Magistrates

Brett McGrath, president of the NSW Law Society, emphasised Justice Bell’s remarks underscored the necessity for increased numbers of judicial officers and support personnel advocating for a remedy:

“The answer lies in bolstering the ranks of Magistrates.”

He further explained,

“Insufficient funding within the justice system imposes unjust strains on all involved. Courts unable to expedite trials within a reasonable timeframe not only render proceedings unfair to defendants but also inflict undue hardship on victims of crime and their families.” … “That means additional magistrates and judges to reduce backlogs in our system”.

The NSW government made fundamental changes to recruit and retain people that are needed to work in the court system, but the change won’t happen overnight.

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