Chief Justice calls for inquisitorial approach

In a speech given to the Victorian Bar & Law Institute Joint Conference, Chief Justice Marilyn Warren has called for lessons to be learned from the inquisitorial legal systems of Europe: “It is an adversarial setting that we live and breathe every day. What we need to do is to find ways to dilute, vary and soften the impact of the adversarial setting. We might learn from the European experience where judges very much control the litigation. … If we learn from the European experience trials would be shorter and costs may be a fraction what they are now.” Her Honour argued that creativity and cooperation between the courts and the parties could yield significant benefits. Citing a dispute involving 1600 closely connected cases, she noted that the judge worked with the parties to develop a template for identifying issues. As a result, “his Honour was able to conduct a directions hearing for about 150 separate pieces of litigation in a single morning by 11:30am. Justice Judd was able to achieve this because of the approach he took… but also, importantly, because of the cooperation of the parties.”