Civil Law and Justice (Omnibus Amendments) Bill 2015

Explanatory Memorandum

(Circulated by authority of the Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC)

General outline

1. The purpose of the Bill is to make minor, technical and uncontroversial amendments to civil justice legislation. This will improve the operation and clarity of civil justice legislation administered by the Attorney-General's portfolio.

2. The Bill is an omnibus bill which will primarily amend the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975, the Bankruptcy Act 1966, the Evidence Act 1995, the Federal Circuit Court of Australia Act 1999, the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 and the International Arbitration Act 1974.

3. The Bill will also make consequential amendments to the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999, the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988, the Family Law Act 1975, the Freedom of Information Act 1982, the James Hardie (Investigations and Proceedings) Act 2004, the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010, the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013, the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 and the Student Assistance Act 1973.

4. Amendments to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 will:

ensure all persons who are parties to a review receive notice that an application for review has been made
clarify that the Tribunal may make orders that certain information is not to be disclosed to the parties
provide flexibility in prescribing the method of giving documents or things for the purposes of proceedings
enable the President to authorise any member of the Tribunal to exercise power to dismiss applications under subsection 39A(18) of the Act, and
ensure that in matters with more than one non-governmental party (such as child support reviews), if the applicant withdraws the application, another party may seek to have it reinstated.

5. Amendments to the Bankruptcy Act 1966 will:

clarify the confidentiality requirements relating to statements of affairs
change the requirement for a bankrupt to lodge certain requests with the Official Receiver to the Inspector-General
remove the requirement for the Inspector-General in Bankruptcy to notify the Official Receiver of certain decisions
impose time limits for applications to the court to review certain decisions of the Official Receiver, and
remove a reference to a repealed provision in section 225 of the Act.

6. Amendments to the Evidence Act 1995 will:

move the journalist privilege provisions from Division 1A of Part 3.10 to new Division 1C of Part 3.10 so that the Act accords with the Parliamentary Counsel's Committee Protocol on Drafting National Uniform Legislation.

7. Amendments to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia Act 1999 will:

provide an arrester, who is authorised by the Act, or a warrant issued under the Act or the Rules of Court, with the power to use reasonable force to enter premises to execute an arrest warrant, and
repeal an obsolete reference and improve readability of the Act.

8. Amendments to the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 will:

streamline and enhance the jury empanelment process
enhance the pre-trial process for indictable offences, and
repeal obsolete provisions, correct legislative oversights and improve the accuracy of the Act.

9. Amendments to the International Arbitration Act 1974 will:

correct the heading of Part II to better reflect its contents
simplify provisions for enforcement of foreign arbitral awards and improve compliance with the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards
apply confidentiality provisions to arbitral proceedings on an opt-out rather than opt-in basis, and
repeal an obsolete section.

Financial impact statement

10. There is no financial impact associated with this Bill.

Regulatory impact statement

11. There is no regulatory impact associated with this Bill. The Office of Best Practice Regulation advised that a Regulatory Impact Statement is not required for this Bill.

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