Work Allocation In Australian Courts: Court Staff And The Judiciary
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Law and Justice / Sellenger Centre for Research in Law, Justice and Social Change
This article examines the statutory basis of judicial workload allocation, before turning to empirical research findings to investigate the functions performed by the judiciary and the court staff in allocating work. The ultimate responsibility for allocating work in a court rests with the chief judicial officer, either as a specific statutory responsibility or as part of their general responsibility to manage the court. In practice, other judicial officers and court personnel are involved in work allocation. This article reports on findings from extensive empirical research examining the processes of work organisation in Australian courts. This research has identified the centrality of court officials, as well as the responsible judicial officer, in allocating work. This may include allocating cases to courts or lists; assigning judicial officers to courts or lists; or, in some circumstances, allocating specific cases to judicial officers. This process of workload allocation requires these court officials to exercise considerable skill in balancing key principles and values of judicial work organisation, including efficiency, fairness, neutral case allocation, and judicial independence.