Wednesday 21 September 2011

Hansard of the Legislative Council


Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Madam President, just a small contribution. I agree with the bill because there is a right for people to have access to the judicial system and there are some people, and fortunately they are few in number, who abuse that right by bringing actions and claims that have no substantive base apart from perhaps the claimant's somewhat jaundiced view of what is justice.

In investigating this bill I talked to a solicitor friend of mine who had the experience of being the solicitor to an estate where two sisters were executrices of their mother's estate and the finalisation of that estate was held up for almost six years because of claims -

Ms Forrest - That is unreasonable delay.

Mr FINCH - Yes. It was claimed by one sister that there had been improper dealings by a third sister in connection with assets of the mother before the mother's death and then subsequent to her death.

Mr Hall - Blood is not thicker than water.

Mr FINCH - No, that is right, particularly when there is a will involved. The executrix launched several claims in the lower court and also two in the Supreme Court. The point is that she was not represented by a legally qualified person. These actions not only involved the third sister but also brought in the other executrix as the co-executrix so it was very messy indeed and eventually the actions were all dismissed as having no basis in law and in some of the matters no basis in fact so there was a vexatious process that went over a period of six years.

Ms Forrest - Was it vexatious, though, or was it just seeking advice?

Mr Mulder - Are you suggesting that these people would have been called vexatious litigants?

Mr FINCH - They may have been; I am probably drawing a long bow there to suggest that. However, while attempting to block spurious actions or claims by a vexatious litigant through legislation, care needs to be exercised that the legislation cannot be used to block legitimate actions by a person or persons who will be pursuing a legitimate claim or claims against a person or organisation, or in fact the State.

Leader, there is something that you might care to address for me, in your summing up. There was a suggestion that there is no provision whereby a union, a wilderness society or any other organisation can be prevented from instituting proceedings in different States over the same issue or the matter. You might just give me some clarification on that. I support the bill.