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Appointment of additional judges associated with small increases in NSW District Court finalisations


Release Date: Thursday 9 September 2021 

Link to report summary:-

A new study has found that the appointment of seven new District Court judges significantly increased court finalisations but only in some locations.

In February 2019, the NSW Government appointed seven new judges to the NSW District Court (the DC7 reforms) as a measure to address rising court backlog.

A new evaluation by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) examines the extent to which the appointment of these judges increased the monthly number of finalised matters in the NSW District Criminal Court.

The study considers District Court finalisations before and after the reforms in seven NSW courts: Sydney Downing Centre, Newcastle, Gosford, Wollongong, Lismore and Coffs Harbour from 1 January 2014 to 28 February 2020.

The study found that the DC7 reforms were associated with significant increases in finalisations in Newcastle and Wollongong District Courts (up 3.3 and 5.3 cases per month respectively).  However, the additional judges did not appear to generate any additional finalisations in the Sydney Downing Centre, Gosford, Lismore or Coffs Harbour District Courts.  When considered collectively, the change in monthly finalisations in the treatment courts was not significant. 

Commenting on the findings, Executive Director Jackie Fitzgerald said there are two apparent reasons why the DC7 reforms generated only small increases in finalisation in some courts.  "Firstly, in many courts the new judges replaced acting judges, so there was no actual increase in judicial capacity.  Secondly, some courts saw an increase in sexual assault trials which are generally longer and require more judicial resources."  

Further enquiries: Jackie Fitzgerald, Executive Director, BOCSAR  0423 139 687
Email: bcsr@justice.nsw.gov.au
Copies of the report: www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au