Chapter 1
A consolidated Courts Act


1.1This chapter focuses on a fundamental issue arising from the Commission’s terms of reference in the review of the Judicature Act 1908,6  namely whether there should be a unitary Courts Act, and considers the alternative legislative structures.

1.2The major premise behind this reference – that there might be a unitary Courts Act – is neither new, nor somebody’s “grand vision”.

1.3In a number of Commonwealth jurisdictions, courts legislation has had to evolve to deal with concerns of complexity and problems of access to justice. This has led law reform agencies and Ministries of Justice to enquire whether a modern Courts Bill is possible, and what it might look like. As only one instance, the Law Reform Commission of Ireland was charged with tackling the formidable task of endeavouring to bring together almost 60 statutes relating to the courts in that jurisdiction since the establishment of that State in 1922.7
6See Appendix 1.
7See Ireland Law Reform Commission Consolidation and Reform of the Courts Act (LRC CP46, 2007) at 1-3. See also chapter 4, which helpfully summarises endeavours in this sphere around Ireland, England and Wales, Singapore, New Zealand, some of the Australian states, and Australia.