The Australian Productivity Commission Access to Justice Report

The Australian Productivity Commission Access to Justice Report

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Full report

FINDINGS OF THE REPORT      

“Governing legislation needs to be amended to ensure that consumer protection is the explicit and primary objective of complaint bodies”

Unfortunately once a report has been completed the Australian Productivity Commission has no power to influence the outcome Thus absolutely Zero resources have been committed by our parliaments and family loving politicians (Only when they want your vote) To ensuring our family`s consumer rights are protected when hiring the services of the legal industry.

productivity commission

To Dr Warren Mundy and Angela MacRae.                                                   11 01 2015                                                                                                     Presiding Commissioner and Commissioner                                               Access to Justice Arrangements                                                                       Australian Productivity Commission

 

Dear Warren and Angela

Thank you for your endurance and for creating a light. A light that needs to blaze across our legal structure, a light that has shone throughout Australia since 1974 with the implementation of the Trade Practices Act which has enshrined Australian consumers with consumer rights, a light that has not been embraced by the land of the quill, ink pot and candle.

Thank you for placing the rights of consumers of legal services into the agenda and lets make sure we keep it there and do not let it disappear onto a bookshelf to gather dust as a job now done whilst the citizens of Australia are denied there consumer rights by the legal profession.

Refer Access to Justice. Australian Productivity Commission Report Overview.  pg 10

“Governing legislation needs to be amended to ensure that consumer protection is the explicit and primary objective of complaint bodies”

This report on how our legal system functions and methods that will improve its function for all Australians touch on areas that are embryonic to the legal fraternity. The report speaks of quality standards, obligations of the legal fraternity to the rights of consumers of their services, the failure of the legal fraternity to adopt past recommendations for improved efficiency, the systemic lack of transparency within the processes which lead to delays, increased costs and the inability of the consumers of legal services to obtain information from which they can make rational determinations as to whether or not to proceed with a legal action.

The Australian Productivity Commission has identified that the rights of consumers of legal services are not being met and that the regulators of those services need to recognise those rights as a priority.

 It is of course the solution and we do not need to reinvent the wheel. The law is already there and has been there for the past fourty years. The reason the legal profession and the judicial structure is collapsing is because they have not honoured their obligations to the rights of Australian consumers of their services for the past fourty years, whilst the rest of industry got on with the job of listening to consumers and developing quality control systems to reduce consumer complaints thus improving their own organisations overall productivity and trustworthiness.

There is a thread all of the way through this report and the commissioners identify the legal professions sneakiness in failing to implement recommendations for reform and their own resistance to any outside interference to their system.

Getting the legal profession to absorb their obligations under Australian Consumer Law into their culture will be a very difficult to achieve. As has been seen in the past, the legal regulators are disempowered due to the hierarchical nature of the legal profession. The actual personnel who are performing the investigations on behalf of the legal regulators are part of that structure. They are normally beginning their careers and are fully aware of the structure and are therefore easily intimidated or are not in a position to pursue an investigation if they are directed not to do so from above. Even if they know the investigation should proceed. In many instances it would be counter intuitive for them to dispute these decisions as it would jeopardise the progress of their careers.

The problems are:

Will any one read the report, apart from the obsessive souls such as ourselves and will anyone have the intelligence and forth sight to realise how important it is for all Australians that the transition occur. Will any one with the intelligence and foresight who realizes the significance of the transition, have the strength and courage to counter the hubris and     self-interest within the legal profession, so as the transition will occur.

For the transition to occur, governments both State and Federal will have to dedicate resources to their relevant consumer regulators in order that they can investigate complaints about legal professionals under Australian Consumer Law and the Trade Practices Act of 1974. They will have to set up a Federal committee made up of professionals (not lawyers) who are experienced and understand how to successfully transform systems through a reform process. They will have to set up independent committees in each separate state who can monitor and guide the process of transition because if it is left up to the legal profession I can assure you; nothing will happen! The independent bodies in each state would be responsible for keeping a watchful eye on the legal profession to ensure that the reforms are implemented according to a time table and the reforms are backed up with unbiased investigation of consumer complaints by the designated regulators. I have no doubt the committees in each state would not be short of work. The cost of funding such a structure would be recouped through the savings generated within the Australian economy through creating a legal system that is more efficient and accurate and con be trusted by our community.

The Australian Productivity Commission is part of Treasury. Treasury has a media department. That department needs to be resourced so as to help to facilitate the transition by getting the issue into the public arena so as it can be thrashed out. It is the way we do things in a democracy and it avoids the use of destructive processes that we see occurring all around us.

 I will draw your attention to the following contained in Volume one Pg 226

“This criticism led to the establishment of the Queensland Legal Services Commission. However, independence is not a ‘silver bullet’, and poor practices can still prevail within independent bodies. In 2008, the Victorian Ombudsman criticised the Victorian Legal Services Commission in an investigation of its complaints processes (McGarvie 2012). The Ombudsman initiated the investigation on its own motion because it had received 95 complaints about the Commission in the previous year (Victorian Ombudsman 2009).”         The Ombudsman found poor practices including delay, poor handling of minor matters, poor investigatory techniques, denial of procedural fairness, inadequate documentation explaining decisions and a low number of substantive prosecutions. The Ombudsman made 28 recommendations to improve processes and the Commissioner has reported that these have since been adopted. One example was the introduction of a Rapid Resolution Team in 2010 to expeditiously handle straightforward service matters (McGarvie 2012). While the Commission sought access to this confidential Ombudsman report from the Victorian Legal Services Commission, it was instead only provided with the Victorian Legal Services Commission’s response to the recommendations. As such the Commission has not been able to independently verify whether the improvements have adequately addressed the underlying concerns raised by the Ombudsman.”

It is inexcusable that the Productivity Commission cannot obtain a copy of the report The Victorian Ombudsman conducted on The Victorian Legal Services Commissioner in 2009 when running an enquiry into access to justice. Which effectively is an enquiry into how the legal industry operates and there is a tax payer funded report available (but hidden) on how the legal regulator did not perform?

It must be in the national interest for the Productivity Commission to have that report to assist them with their enquiry. Since understanding the failure of the operation of the regulator on any system is critical to improving the system`s performance.

One has to ask the question. Is it in the public interest that the information contained in this report be shared with The Productivity Commission`s enquiry into Access to Justice and if not so then who`s interest is it in? It is important to note that the Victorian Ombudsman highlighted this report in his 2009 annual report which indicates he was expecting the report to be available for public comment.

Why has there not been any push and shove on this issue? It is all about transparency. The legal profession hides things as a power play, it is one of its adversarial tools and behaviour such as this between government departments must not be accepted by the Australian Community. Why has the Productivity Commission rolled over on this one?

The report has mentioned that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is the overriding body in relation to the handling of consumer complaints against lawyers. Has the Productivity Commission requested data from that body in relation to the number of complaints they have received against lawyers and whether or not they have obtained data from their state counterparts so as to see if there are any systemic issues. Currently the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) state there is not a systemic issue to complainants and therefore it is not their responsibility to investigate one off complaints from consumers.

The final report by The Productivity Commission on Access to Justice is an essential read but do not leave it there and think the problems will be cured. They will only be cured if every body works to ensure change will occur and the Australian Legal Industry incorporates Australian Consumer Law into its culture and honours its obligations both past and present to consumers of its services.

I thank you again Angela and Warren for creating the light and with hard work and determination let’s make it shine. I take the liberty to emphasise only because of direct experience. This change will not come easily and needs to be managed by a credible and independent team.

 For the transition to occur the governments both State and Federal will have to dedicate resources to their relevant consumer regulators so as they can investigate complaints about legal professionals under Australian Consumer Law and under the Trade Practices act of 1974. They will also have to set up an independent Federal Committee made up of professionals (not lawyers) who are experienced and understand how to successfully transforming systems through a reform process. They will have to set up a committee in each separate state who can monitor and guide the process of transition because if it is left up to the legal profession I can assure you that nothing will happen.

To achieve the objective will not be without resistance as the patient will not be a willing participant, is powerful and well equipped with the tools of deceit and sophistry to repel such an unpalatable pill.

Yours Sincerely

Diarmuid Hannigan.

 

To Dr Warren Mundy and Angela McRae

Dear Warren and Angela.

Just a couple more points.

I have attached Consumer affairs Victoria’s last response to me. This confirms their refusal to as I said To stick their toe in the water.

I have attached a copy of a reply to a letter that I sent to every sitting member of our federal parliament. That is how you get a response from the Federal or for even that matter the state attorney general if you are just a simpleton from Collingwood. I must tell Eddie to get some coaching skills on hand ball from these guys.

You are well aware of the odour emitted from the Senate Committee`s call for a Royal Commission into the banking sector and ASIC and would be fully aware of the parallels with the legal Industry and its regulators.

I leave you with a verbal picture from the land of black and white where a man calls a spade a spade.

Comment posted Link.

Reforms, repeals, royal commissions: what`s the fiture of the financial industry.

 If one begins to join the dots they form a picture, a picture of a methane mine. A mine run by lawyers, we will call that the legal industry. Its main sources of revenue come from Debt, Death and Divorce hence if the mine becomes a sewer pit of unaccountability and criminality it will inevitably corrupt its regulator.

But picture a house with a noxious smell being emitted by a rotting carpet caused by the rotting floorboards resulting from the rotting stumps that has occurred through poor drainage.  If the carpet cleaner is corrupt he will clean the carpet knowing full well that the underlying problem will continue and he will be back again for more work when it next rains. The same is occurring at the highest levels within our most important institutions upon whom our families rely upon.

Notice how the Commonwealth Bank has bought in Justice Callinan to head an Independent Inquiry into its actions, by the way Justice Callinan headed an inquiry into the Victorian Parole Board after 8 women including Jill Meagher were raped and murdered by criminals who were out of jail on parole. 14 members of the judiciary are on the parole board and Justice Callinan did a good job of smoothing the issues over.

I would suggest that this is a contrived manoeuvre by the legal Industry so as to avert a Royal Commission into the banks and ASIC. This royal commission will discover that the rotting floor boards ie ASIC are part of the problem, when they investigate further (Provided the Royal Commission is Independent of the Legal Industry) they will find the rotting stumps and they will work out that they have a drainage problem or rather a methane mine connected to a sewer pit of unaccountability bordering on criminality within the legal industry.

The methane mine is formed from the seven states and two territories where lawyers are regulated under separate state and territory legal Professional acts. A Royal Commission involving ASIC would discover this connection and the cause of the stench that we are all currently suffering under.

Thank you for your time and effort.

Best wishes

Diarmuid Hannigan

To Dr Warren Mundy and Angela McRae

Dear Warren and Angela.

Thank you for our conversation on Wednesday evening and for your engaging questions.

There are a couple of points I would like to raise as a result of our conversation.

  1. We discussed Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and The legal professional act in relation to the regulation of the legal industry. I omitted to include a very important point and that is that the penalties for people and firms who trespass on the rights of consumers under Australian Consumer Law (ACL) are severe. For individuals the fines are about $220,000 and for firms it is about $1,000,000 including full restitution to the abused consumer. Under the Legal Professional act the fines issued are normally relatively low in the thousands of dollars and rarely is a lawyer suspended unless they normally commit criminal offences or make complaints against other members of the legal industry.
  2. When we were speaking about deceased estates and the use of tribunals to settle the estates I noticed in one of the questions to me an amount of below $100,000 was mentioned. I assume the Commission was thinking of limiting the value of the estate for these types of settlement to only $100,000. This figure is of concern to me and would be to most Australians. I would suggest a figure of at least $4,000,000 this would arrest the bulk of the management system of the $80 billion a year into a sheltered forum away from the adversarial and predatory legal industry.
  3. In our conversation we also touched upon the inquisitorial legal system and the report written by Professor Annett Marfording.
  4. If one were to incorporate a system whereby the legal industry were properly regulated under Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and the legal system adapted to the European inquisitorial system where judges are trained separately from; lawyers and truth trust and transparency are its founding tenants then we would have progressed.

A point I would like to raise from the land of black and white where we call a spade a spade  and I mean no offence to the commission or to the commissioners as I am encouraged by the open dialogue, dialogue that until now has always been muted by the profession and its stranglehold over what can be published in the press so as to allow our community to engage.

During my opening communication I was alerted to the fact, quite rightfully, that the hearing did not protect the speakers from a legal attack. I found this somewhat ironic as if I were a prisoner in a jail who had come to an inquiry that had concerns about how the jail was performing and how its keepers were behaving. for the benefit of the community and yet I was informed that as a prisoner I could return to my cell and the prison officers who had been abusing me would now have another club with which to beat me. I trust the commission will take this irony on board as it gives greater emphasis to the fact that our laws are made by lawyers and they are also administered and interpreted by lawyers for the benefit of lawyers.

I would also like to take this opportunity to correct an error. I said that 175,000 people die each year Victoria. I meant to say 175,000 people die each year in Australia. Hench the money pool of $80 billion is for Australia each year.

Yours Sincerely

Diarmuid Hannigan

 

DR MUNDY:   Could we have Mr Hannigan, please.  When you’re settled, could I ask you to state your name and the capacity in which you appear.

MR HANNIGAN:   Just have to find my glasses.

DR MUNDY:   I usually have to take mine off to read.

MR HANNIGAN:   That’s a good question.  I come from Collingwood by the way at the moment.

DR MUNDY:   As long as you don’t barrack for them ‑ ‑ ‑

MR HANNIGAN:   I don’t.

DR MUNDY:   ‑ ‑ ‑ we’ll listen to you with respect.

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   Thank you.  My name is Diarmuid Hannigan, and I’m on the executive committee of an organisation called For Legally Abused Citizens, so that’s the capacity in which I appear.

DR MUNDY:   Could we ask you to make a brief opening statement, Mr Hannigan, and then we’ll ask you some questions?

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   Right.  I’ll read this.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to address the Commission on behalf of the legally abused citizens of Australia.  It is all too apparent that we have formed a legal culture that has excluded family and community as a participant.  Lawyers make, administer and interpret out laws.  During law reform process the committee members are nearly always drawn from members of the legal industry.  Concerns raised by the community are often ignored or become so diluted by the lawyer‑run reform committees in their recommendations that they become ineffective when they are shrouded in legal speak that is designed to create a series of indeterminate outcomes which will require engaging the services of the legal industry.

 So sophisticated is this manipulation of our laws by the legal profession that when the Trade Practices Act of 1974 was introduced to Australia, the legal industry promptly decided that the learned profession was above reproach and maintained their own separate state‑sanctioned Legal Professional Acts where consumers of legal services are clients.  Clients do not have consumer rights.  The Legal Professional Act was passed in Victoria in 1946.

The example of the Brookland Greens Estate fiasco, which has cost the Victorian taxpayer about $150 million, is a case in point.  The details are outlined in the Victorian Ombudsman’s report on this matter.  The ombudsman discovered that Colin Taylor of Russell Kennedy failed to honour his duty to the court by not informing the hearing at VCAT that the expert witness had raised concerns regarding an explosion of gas.  Considering the purpose of the forum and implications of the knowledge, having consideration for the fact that young families would start a community in this area, and there was even a possibility of there being an explosion in a house full of children, one has to ask the question why has the legal regulator in Victoria not prosecuted the lawyer?

 Another example:  example of lawyers who become executors.  175,000 people die each year in Victoria leaving an average estate worth half a million dollars, a total of $80 billion per year.  The legal industry manages the majority of this money, and many lawyers and law firms offer their services as executors.  Since executors have access to the estate, it is essential that their behaviour is accountable to the beneficiaries.  Currently these lawyers, executors, can engage in misleading and deceptive conduct in order to generate disputes which will permit them to pay themselves more fees from these estates, particularly if they have helped to draw the will and ensure the terms of the will have some ambiguities.  These lawyers, as was the case of Russell Kennedy when managing my own mother’s estate, can also hide documents they have in their possession from the deceased.

DR MUNDY:   Mr Hannigan, can I just interrupt you there, please?  I need to advise you that these proceedings provide you with no privilege and anything ‑ ‑ ‑

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   Fine.

DR MUNDY:   ‑ ‑ ‑ anything ‑ ‑ ‑

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   Fine, fine.

DR MUNDY:   Can I just finish?  I am obliged to warn you ‑ ‑ ‑

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   Yes.

DR MUNDY:   ‑ ‑ ‑ of this.  These are not parliamentary proceedings and anything you say is available for people to bring action against you.

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   Fine.

DR MUNDY:   I’m not going to stop you, but I want you to be aware.

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   No.  I’m speaking the truth from Collingwood.

DR MUNDY:   Please continue.

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   These lawyers, as was the case of Russell Kennedy when managing my own mother’s estate, can also hide documents they have in their possession from the deceased, and even lie about the contents of those documents without fear of prosecution by the regulators.  Lawyers who become executors of deceased estates are not deemed as lawyers and are not bound by the Legal Professional Act of 2004 in Victoria.  But lawyers who are executors were appointed by people who are now dead who thought they were lawyers.  Clearly a case of misleading and deceptive advertising.

Unfortunately the impacts of this culture when left unrestrained extend well beyond the dismemberment of a few grieving families, or even a community of 1000 people living on a methane mine, and into our aged care and retirement living community, the sick, the ageing, and one of our society’s most vulnerable groups.  One only has to follow the growth of the law firm Russell Kennedy who now advises the Victorian Government on five special legal panels and has now opened an office in Canberra so as to market its expertise in the aged care and retirement living industry to the Federal Government.

In conclusion our laws are not founded on the basis of family or community.  Our laws are created, administered and interpreted by the legal industry for its own financial benefit.  Despite the fact that Australia has embraced consumer rights since 1974 through the Trade Practices Act and now Australian consumer law, the legal industry has been able to subvert its responsibilities under that Act to Australian consumers of its services by maintaining Legal Professional Acts that regulate lawyer behaviour in each separate state.

These acts turn consumers of legal services into clients who do not have consumer rights.  I suggest that the Commission address this anomaly within the law and ensure that Australian consumers of legal services are ensured of their consumer rights.  I also suggest that during the law‑making process members of our communities who represent Australian families play a dominant role and are well resourced and funded to ensure the best outcomes for our nation.  Thank you very much.  Hopefully it’s waking up.

DR MUNDY:   It’s been a long – this is the seventh working – no, yes, because we had a day off on Monday.  I’d make the observation about the Trade Practices Act 1974 that there were constitutional issues which were there around the regulation of partnerships which at the time were thought to be beyond the scope of the Commonwealth, but that’s just a point which has subsequently been clarified with the Australian consumer law, and in fact we are trying to advocate stronger application of the Australia consumer law.  I think some of the issues with the executors probably go into the very murky area of the law of trusts and when people are trustees or they’re something else, and that’s not a matter which we’re probably competent to resolve.

But one of the things we are interested in is consumer protection and fraud.  You’ve raised a number of matters, and I get the sense that you’re probably not particularly satisfied with the processes around the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner and legal services complaints more generally.  We heard from someone earlier on and others who have made the observation of the legal system designed by lawyers for the benefit of lawyers and administered by lawyers.  Do you think there would be any merit in us making recommendations as to the governance of these complaint bodies to require their membership to consists of at least a number of people who were not lawyers, much in the same way as some of the medical registration bodies require there be persons who are not medical practitioners to sit upon them?

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   It would help a little bit, but I would suggest that they would automatically feel intimidated, not being a lawyer.  That’s my suggestion.

DR MUNDY:   I’d be available, and I’m not a legal practitioner.

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   No, no.  A person of your calibre, or somebody who has got an education and is a tough nut, could well be very, very useful in those areas.  I also feel though that it would be better if the consumer affairs bodies were well resourced and in many instances were capable of dealing with issues regarding the provision of legal services to consumers.

DR MUNDY:   Well, given that the Australian consumer law does extend now to the provision of legal ‑ ‑ ‑

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   You’ve worked that out.

DR MUNDY:   ‑ ‑ ‑ services, do you think there’s a problem inasmuch as that because there are these legal services commissions there, and all agencies are scarcely resourced at some point, that there’s a risk that the consumer law isn’t vigorously brought to bear by the fair trading commissions or the ACCC or whoever because there is this other body there and they say, “Well, given there’s someone over there to deal with those sorts of disputes, and given there’s no‑one over here to deal with these, we’ll focus our resources on that”?  It’s not a criticism of the people involved.  I think it’s a logical bureaucratic response.  But I’m wondering whether that’s part of the cause of the lack of an enforcement of the consumer law.

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   No.  I’m going to hand you over more information, but from my own experience they’re loathe to tip their toe in the water.  That’s from my experience.  I’m trying to get Consumer Affairs Victoria to organise a voluntary mediation between the firm I’m dealing with, and they write back to me and say, “We can’t do that because we think that the voluntary mediation wouldn’t resolve your issues.”  So they’re loathe to even go to stage 1 and formalise it.  My point is that if they arranged the voluntary mediation, then the law firm, if they decline to attend, will have to give reasons for why they don’t want to attend.  So I can’t even get to that base, which is why I’m running down the consumer ‑ ‑ ‑

DR MUNDY:   It’s interesting that you’ve actually tried to go to Consumer Affairs ‑ ‑ ‑

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   I’ve done all that, yes.

DR MUNDY:   ‑ ‑ ‑ and deal with the matter under the ACL rather than through the legal services option.

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   Yes, I’ve been there, and the other point I’ll make whilst we’ve got a bit of time, I’ve been trying to get the Victorian Ombudsman’s report on the Legal Services Commission that was done in 2009 through FOI, and I would suggest to the Commission that you obtain that report, but it’s a very, very difficult report to get.  They’re loathe to hand it out.  That report contains 29 recommendations on how the Office of the Legal Services Commissioner could improve its performance, but we don’t know what the recommendations are, so we don’t know if the recommendations have been implemented or how it’s progressing or ‑ ‑ ‑

DR MUNDY:   Is the ombudsman in this jurisdiction required to table their reports in parliament, or not?

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   The ombudsman mentioned the report in his 2009 annual report, and in that report he gave a copy to the Attorney‑General for his information.  The Attorney‑General, I gather, has not tabled that in parliament, and therefore the report has not become public.

DR MUNDY:   That’s a few Attorneys‑General ago I would suspect.

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   Two:  Hulls and then Robert Clarke.

DR MUNDY:   So Hulls received it.

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   Yes.

MS MacRAE:   Are you aware of any jurisdiction where you think this works better?  I guess because you’ve got issues with the complaints system, but you’ve got issues about how, if I read your ‑ ‑ ‑

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   Well, from communicating with Peter Andrew – I’ve never met him actually.  He’s up in Sydney and he’s helped me a lot over the years – they continue to talk about the European system and the inquisitorial system as a far more appropriate system, and Annette Marfording did a report on that through the University of New South Wales and they found that to be cheaper, quicker and more accurate, but it was also very, very difficult to get that report.  Took two years to dig that one out.  Was funded by a federal body, and then it went through – I can’t remember the name of thing, some federal legal agency that funded the New South Wales people.  She wrote the report, but the report then was stashed for a while, disappeared, and I’ve only come into this, as I said, as a result of a will.

DR MUNDY:   Yes.  No, and that’s the issue I perhaps ‑ ‑ ‑

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   I’m a businessman and an engineer by trade.

DR MUNDY:   Yes.  I’d like to bring you to that question of wills because we’ve had some quite moving evidence from a number of people around a whole pile of issues about the finalisation of estates and where people are to be buried, and a whole pile of issues which seem to us to be primarily disputes within families.  They’re – a case on the record we had in South Australia, a dispute within an indigenous family about where someone was to be buried, and ultimately a judge of the Supreme Court had to try and sort it out, and another dispute whereby a man was – a medical practitioner was highly traumatised by the conduct of his siblings and their legal counsel, and arguably on the basis of his evidence the conduct of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

It seems to us that these are matters which are quite rife or the normal sort – you know, we have very well developed processes for resolving disputes within families when a marriage breaks down, and they seem on evidence to do a better job than trying them in front of a judge, at least in many cases, and you raise the issue of a small – a low‑cost tribunal for dealing with these very much in the way that the Women’s Legal Service earlier said, “Well, look, do we really need to resolve disputes over matrimonial property say up to the value of $100,000 or whatever?”

How would you see such a tribunal working, because it seems to us that these are circumstances where quite often, not always, the parties are grieving for a lost one, there’s the realisation of a lot of unspoken angst built up over times, and perhaps a mediated arrangement rather than probate which just as you – has a capacity to chew through the resources of the estate either because of the conduct of the executor or the conduct of any of the beneficiaries for that matter, might actually get better outcomes more quickly?

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   If you have a trained commissioner and you paid him a grand a day, that’s 5000 a week, he could sit there and sort out all the rubbish, and it’s not rocket science.

DR MUNDY:   It’s about people, isn’t it?

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   It’s just about people.  It’s not – we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel or fly to the moon, we’re just trying to sort out, “It’s my Dinky toy, it’s not yours.”

DR MUNDY:   “Auntie Molly was going to leave me that and ‑ ‑ ‑”

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   That’s it, yes.  It’s really simple stuff, and you don’t need a guy in there on 10 grand a day sitting there with a wig and a – you know, and all that.

DR MUNDY:   I guess if you would do it in a way which was successful, it would be a lot quicker and people would get in and out and get on with their lives.

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   Lot less psychological angst.  I mean it split my family.  I don’t talk to my sister – two sisters, and that’s been 10 years.

DR MUNDY:   Okay.

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   So it creates – and then it creates a lot of rifts with the children too, and the whole – it’s very bad stuff.

DR MUNDY:   Yes.  So it’s a bit – and it’s funny, it’s a family breaking up in a different way.

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   Yes.  It’s really bad stuff and it’s not good for Australia.  All right.

DR MUNDY:   All right.  Well, look, thank you very much for your submission.

MR HANNIGAN (FLAC):   Thanks for listening to me, and it was good to meet you and thank you for doing your work too.

DR MUNDY:   They pay us reasonably.  Unless there are any observations or comments that anyone else wishes to make, these proceedings are adjourned until 8.45 on Friday morning in Hobart.

AT 5.04 PM THE INQUIRY WAS ADJOURNED UNTIL FRIDAY, 13 JUNE 2014

 

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