Sustainable Justice: the Future for Courts

Dr Andrew J Cannon AM FAAL1

1 Adjunct Professor at Flinders University South Australia and Muenster University Germany, Deputy Chief Magistrate and Senior Mining Warden South Australia

The purpose of the original European legal system was to moderate the exercise power in a consistent and just way and to resolve conflict credibly so order was preserved throughout the Roman Empire.  That primary purpose found its way into the nation state legal systems under the common law arrangements that developed in England and the later civil code systems spread by the Napoleonic conquests in Europe.

Old power arrangements are changing.  We moved from the justification of ruling by divine right to a social contract.  The nation state is declining as the sole source of legitimate exercise of power over the life, liberty and property of citizens and power is shifting to larger negotiated power structures such as the UN, IMF, EU and international courts and arbitration.  Old social values of Loyalty, Authority and Sanctity are being supplanted by liberal global notions of care, fairness and liberty.

Meanwhile our inherited court processes inflame conflict rather than reduce it.  Adversarial processes drive people into extreme positions. Monetarising justice devalues it and provides incentives to lie.  Our focus on the past magnifies the harm already done and distracts from what is necessary to repair it.  The decision by the judge removes responsibility from the participants.  The media and politicians use fear of crime and terrorism to prop up their declining legitimacy as they foster fear and offer only the solution of punishment.

Courts need to move beyond a primary focus on due process in the exercise of power to maintain order to methods of improving social harmony.  This paper will discuss how the guiding principle of Sustainable Justice is a way to bring together the many strands of non-adversarial justice to address the underlying causes of conflict, to repair harm and improve people who appear before the courts.

Biography:

Dr Andrew J Cannon AM is Deputy Chief Magistrate and Senior Mining Warden in South Australia. He has managed and conducted therapeutic and restorative justice programs in the Magistrates Court, including mental health, drug, family violence and gambling courts and Aboriginal Sentencing Conferences.  He established the civil procedure for the court in the Magistrates Court (Civil) Rules 1992.  He has a long experience in resolving disputes between landowners and miners and in the opal mining fields at Coober Pedy, Mintabie and Andamooka.  He is accredited as an experienced qualified mediator under the National Standard.

Andrew has a PhD from the University of Wollongong on court policy and is an Adjunct Professor at the Flinders University Law School South Australia and at Münster University in Germany.  He has a Doctor of Laws honoris causa from Flinders University and is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law.  He is a Member of the Order of Australia (General Division).  He is widely published and speaks in relevant fields nationally and internationally.

About the Association

The Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration (AIJA) is a research and educational institute associated with Monash University. It is funded by the Law, Crime and Community Safety Council (LCCSC) and also from subscription income from its membership.

The principal objectives of the Institute include research into judicial administration and the development and conduct of educational programmes for judicial officers, court administrators and members of the legal profession in relation to court administration and judicial systems.

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