The Supply of Judicial Labour: Optimising a Scarce Resource in Australia

Authors

  • Brian Opeskin University of Technology Sydney

Abstract

Developed societies generate a multitude of controversies between their members, which need to be resolved fairly if society is to function well. Judicial officers play a central role in that process by hearing and determining disputes according to law, but they are costly and their long tenure entrenches labour market rigidities. This is an inconvenience for modern governments, as they attempt to keep the wheels of justice turning, while facing budgetary constraints that drive them to seek ever greater cost-efficiencies. This article surveys the ways in which governments in Australia have sought to optimise the judicial labour force by creating a more flexible and cost-effective supply. The system of justice that has evolved in response to these developments is a complex one, with many complementary parts. There is no unique solution to the question of how many judicial officers society needs to quell disputes because this goal can be achieved in different ways. But great care needs to be taken to ensure that government action to find flexible sources of labour to meet the demand for judicial dispute resolution does not come at too high a price in terms of respect for the rule of law.

Las sociedades desarrolladas generan multitud de polémicas entre sus miembros, y éstas deben ser solucionadas de forma justa para que la sociedad funcione bien. Los agentes judiciales desempeñan un papel esencial en ese proceso, dado que atienden y solucionan disputas de acuerdo con el derecho, pero son agentes costosos y sus largas permanencias en el puesto perpetúan la rigidez del mercado laboral. Ello es un inconveniente para los gobernantes actuales, que intentan asegurar que el ejercicio de la justicia siga su curso, al tiempo que se enfrentan a limitaciones presupuestarias que los empujan a buscar una eficiencia en relación a los costes cada vez mayor. Este artículo estudia las maneras en las que los gobiernos de Australia han procurado optimizar la fuerza de trabajo judicial mediante la creación de un suministro más flexible y más eficaz con respecto al coste. El sistema de justicia que ha evolucionado en respuesta a estos desarrollos es complejo, con muchas partes complementarias. No hay una única respuesta a la pregunta de cuántos agentes judiciales necesita la sociedad para mitigar disputas, porque este objetivo se puede conseguir de diferentes formas. Pero hace falta ser más prudentes para asegurar que la acción gubernamental centrada en encontrar fuentes de trabajo flexibles para satisfacer la demanda de resolución de disputas judiciales no implique un precio demasiado alto en términos de respeto al imperio de la ley.

DOWNLOAD THIS PAPER FROM SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2928388

 

Author Biography

Brian Opeskin, University of Technology Sydney

Brian Opeskin joined Macquarie Law School in December 2008 as Professor of Legal Governance. He is currently co-director of the Centre for Legal Governance, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law, and a member of the Australian Research Council's College of Experts.

Brian previously held positions as Head of the Law School at the University of the South Pacific in Vanuatu (2006-2008); Commissioner and then Deputy President of the Australian Law Reform Commission (2000-2006), legal academic at Sydney University Law School (1989-2000); and Associate to Justice Mason at the High Court of Australia (1985-1986).

He undertook his undergraduate degrees in economics and law at the University of New South Wales. He then pursued postgraduate study at Oxford University on a Shell Australia scholarship, before returning to Australia to take up an academic appointment. He also has a Master of Social Research in Demography from the Australian National University.

Brian researches and teaches in the broad field of public law, and has written extensively in the areas of constitutional law; courts and judges; migration law; and public international law. While at the Australian Law Reform Commission, he was the Commissioner in charge of five public inquiries, including inquiries into federal judicial power, the protection of human genetic information, gene patenting and human health, sentencing of federal offenders, and sedition laws.

His current research examines issues of governance and legal policy relating to international migration, judges and court systems. He has a particular interest in interdisciplinary research that examines the intersections between principles of public law and demographic processes, and has a special interest in Pacific legal systems.

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Published

28-10-2016

How to Cite

Opeskin, B. (2016) “The Supply of Judicial Labour: Optimising a Scarce Resource in Australia”, Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 7(4), pp. 847–878. Available at: https://opo.iisj.net/index.php/osls/article/view/852 (Accessed: 29 November 2021).