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Rationing Justice: Tempering Demand for Courts in the Managerialist State


Brian Opeskin

Over the past generation there have been significant reforms to the way the state supports the just resolution of legal disputes. Influenced by public sector managerialism, the state has sought ever greater cost-effectiveness by tempering demand for justice in the courts. Using Australia as an example, this article analyses six processes by which the state has modulated this demand, namely, extinguishing, expelling, diverting, incentivising, filtering and demoting. But at what price? Greater efficiencies sometimes come at a cost to other fundamental values, such as access to justice, fair process, impartial decision-making, just outcomes and public trust. This article evaluates these tensions by examining a suite of specific demand management mechanisms that have been widely used in civil and criminal disputes in Australia.

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(2022) 45(2) UNSWLJ 531: