Family Court Defended Against Fairfax Media Claim

Law Council rejects corruption claims in Family Court

Dr Jacoba Brasch QC

The Law Council of Australia rejects an assertion reported by Fairfax Media on 12 and 13 January 2021 that “the Family Court of Australia has many corruption issues” including “corrupt” judges.

Such comments undermine public confidence in the integrity of the Court and the Rule of Law in Australia.

There is no doubt that family law is factually and legally complex, emotionally-charged and produces life-altering consequences for families and children.

Judges of the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia perform this important work in a difficult, high-pressure environment that carries the risk of physical danger to themselves and their families.

Judges also face the gravity of knowing that their decisions, especially regarding children, could in some instances provoke extreme responses resulting in violence to a child or a party, or in tragic cases death. 

Judges are held accountable for their decisions through processes including appeals and the Family Court’s and Federal Circuit Court’s Judicial Complaints Procedures. 

Any specific allegation should be raised through these processes, not aired in the media to tarnish the reputation of the Court and hard-working judicial officers.”

 

Statement by the President of the Australian Bar Association, Matthew Howard SC

The Australian Bar Association (ABA) joins with the Law Council of Australia in rejecting the claim reported by Fairfax Media on 12 and 13 January 2021 that ‘the Family Court of Australia has many corruption issues’ including ‘corrupt’ judges.

The ABA has the highest respect for the judges of the Family Court of Australia and for their independence and integrity,” Mr Howard SC said.

More Australians have contact with the family law system and courts than perhaps any other part of our justice system. It is important that the Australian community has and can have confidence in these courts, the hard-working judges who serve in them and the justice process more generally.

The reported comments were baseless, inappropriate and undermining of the courts administering the judicial system.

As the President of the Law Council of Australia, Dr Jacoba Brasch QC noted, the judges of the courts including the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia perform their work in a ‘difficult, high-pressure environment that carries the risk of physical danger to themselves and their families’ and are ‘accountable for their decisions through processes including appeals and the Family Court’s and Federal Circuit Court’s Judicial Complaints Procedures’.

The Courts of Australia are open to the public and their judgments can be critically scrutinised but Mr Howard said “There is no place for unfounded claims about the integrity of the country’s judges.”