Queensland’s Justices of the Peace (JP) have flourished in appointments to new roles as adjudicators over minor disputes.
Under the Government’s JP QCAT pilot program, specially selected JPs are offered the opportunity to hear and adjudicate over minor disputes of up to $5,000 in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).
A trial of the program commenced in June 2013 in an effort to reduce a backlog of cases in the Queensland court system. Since its inception, more than 1,400 cases have been heard at five trial sites across the State including Brisbane, Southport, Ipswich, Maroochydore and Townsville.
At the time of publication, more than 100 JPs have been appointed to adjudicate matters. Appointed JPs are from a diverse range of backgrounds including both legal and non-legal professions.
Costing $1.4 million in 2013-14, the program aims to free up QCAT adjudicators for more complex matters. It is also expected that the program will reduce the time and cost associated with finalising applications.
The trial is currently being independently evaluated to ensure that it complies with objectives outlined by the Queensland government. The evaluation will also determine whether the program was successful in reaching its projected goals. The final evaluation report is expected to be released in February or March this year.