The State Courts Administration Council is established by the Courts Administration Act 1993, as a statutory authority independent of executive government control. The Courts Administration Authority is the collective term for the Council, the Administrator, and staff of the Council. The Attorney-General is the Minister who administers the Act.
Under the Act, the Council:
The Council has the powers of a natural person and the statutory power to delegate under its powers under the Act or any other Act – ss 6 & 11 of the Act.
The Council consists of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Chief Judge of the District Court and the Chief Magistrate of the Magistrates Court. Each member of the Council may appoint a judicial officer from the relevant court to be an associate member of the Council. The associate member is a deputy of the member by whom he or she was appointed and is not entitled to a vote except when acting in the absence of the member – s 7 of the Act.
The Chief Justice or in his absence his deputy presides at any meeting of Council. A quorum of the Council is the Chief Justice or in his absence his deputy and one other member of Council. A decision supported by the vote of the Chief Justice, or in his absence his deputy and one other member of Council is a decision of the Council – s 9 of the Act.
The State Courts Administrator is the Council’s Chief Executive Officer and is subject to control and direction by the Council. The Administrator is responsible for the control and management of the Council’s staff and the management of Council’s property – s 17 Act.
The Council is responsible for the provision of the administrative facilities and services necessary for participating courts and their staff to properly carry out their judicial and administrative functions.
A participating court remains responsible for its own internal administration – s 10 of the Act.
The Act contains certain legislative responsibilities for the Council:
Council may establish administrative policies and guidelines to be observed by participating courts in the exercise of their administrative responsibilities.
Council must from time to time prepare and submit to the Attorney-General a budget showing estimates of its receipts and expenditures for the next financial year. This usually takes the form of the Annual Budget Bilateral Bids.
Council may not expend monies unless provision has been made for the expenditure in a budget approved by the Attorney-General.
Council must maintain proper accounting records of its receipts and expenditures.
A member of the Council or the Administrator must attend before a parliamentary committee if requested to do so to answer questions about the financial needs of the participating courts; the expenditure of money by the Council; or any other matters affecting the administration of the courts. Questions may not be asked about the exercise of judicial as distinct from administrative powers or discretions.
Council must on or before 31 October of each year provide an Annual Report
to the Attorney-General which he must lay before Parliament within 12 sitting days of receipt.
Council must make further reports to the Attorney-General as may be necessary to ensure that he is properly informed about the administration of the participating courts.
Council must at the request of the Attorney-General report to him on any matter relevant to the administration of a participating court.
Council is responsible for the care, control and management of Courthouses and other real and personal property of the Crown set apart for the use of participating courts.
In providing strategic leadership and governance to the CAA, Council provides a link between the participating courts and encourages consistency in the areas of process and administration where appropriate, whilst recognising that the participating courts maintain responsibility for their own internal administration.
Council provides a leadership role in the strategic direction of the CAA by convening planning workshops to inform the development of the CAA Strategic Plan and through qualitative debate on its targets and objectives. Whilst the Administrator is responsible for the development of the Strategic Plan, it requires Council endorsement and final approval.
In setting the direction for the future development of the Courts and CAA, Council takes an active and ongoing interest in State and National strategic issues affecting the courts, the Authority and the Law by financially supporting the attendance of members of the judiciary and administration at conferences and seminars and through membership of appropriate State and National committees. Time is allocated on the Council Agenda to discuss Strategic Issues.
Council oversees the way in which management runs the CAA and encourages a culture of high ethical behaviour that underscores the values of integrity, justice, respect and professionalism.
Policy and Legislative compliance
All CAA Administrative Policies are submitted to Council for approval before being promulgated. Council also maintains oversight of the CAA’s legislative compliance requirements through such mechanisms as the Annual audit by the Auditor-General; OHSW Audit by WorkCover and the CAA Risk and Audit Management Committee’s quarterly reports.
Endorsing Resource Allocation And Monitoring Performance
In meeting its responsibility to provide resources to participating courts Council monitors the CAA expenditure and performance from monthly reports presented to it.
Council has the responsibility of satisfying itself that courts resources are managed efficiently and that resource allocations are balanced against needs. Council encourages innovation in courts and endorses court established targets.
All budget bids from participating courts are submitted to Council for approval before being submitted as part of the Annual Budget Bilateral process. Council allocates budgets to participating courts at the commencement of each financial year and if necessary can reallocate resources at any time to areas of greatest need.
From time to time Council establishes committees to assist it to meet its corporate governance role. These committees report directly to Council and operate under approved Terms of Reference and may be established as Standing Committees or for fixed terms.
The current Standing Committees are:
Community Reference Group
The Community Reference Group was established in 2005 and meets three times a year. The group enables various community representatives to be heard and to make suggestions about suitability and effectiveness of administrative decisions of the CAA on the community. Membership is unpaid. The Group is chaired by a Magistrate and its minutes are reported directly to the State Courts Administration Council.
Library Advisory Committee
This committee provides the forum for consultation between the Library Manager and key library user groups on matters that may impact on the delivery of library services; the strategic direction of the library service; the formation of library policy; and collection development.
The committee is chaired by a Judicial Officer and includes a Supreme Court Judge, a District Court Judge, a Magistrate and Authority staff.
Information Technology Committee
The role of the committee is to report to the Council on, and make recommendations as to, the strategic development of the Authority’s information systems and associated infrastructure.
The committee is chaired by the State Courts Administrator and includes a Supreme Court Judge, a District Court Judge, a Magistrate and Authority staff.
The Governor appoints the Administrator for a term not exceeding five years on the nomination of the Council. The Administrator cannot be dismissed from office or reduced in status except with the concurrence of the Council but may be reappointed following completion of the term of employment.
The Administrator is not a member of the Public Service or an employee for the purposes of the Public Sector Act 2009. However, the Administrator has the same powers as a Chief Executive of an Administrative unit of the Public Service.
EMT is responsible for the day to day management of the authority’s policies, resources and operational issues. It is comprised of the Administrator; the Executive Director Strategy and Court Operations, the Principal Registrar and Executive Director Higher Courts; the Principal Registrar and Executive Director Court Services; the Chief Financial Officer and the Manager Human Resources. The Committee is responsible to Council through the Administrator.
All staff are employed by the Administrator under the Act. The appointment of senior staff requires the approval of the Council.
Staff are answerable for the proper discharge of their duties to the Administrator and if the position relates to a particular participating court, to the judicial head of that court.