Public Access to the Law Library at the David Malcolm Justice Centre

Over the past few weeks, ALLA (WA) has received some queries relating to access at the Law Library at the David Malcolm Justice Centre. It has come to the committees attention via these queries that some people had thought that ALLA (WA) is the authority which decides access to the Law Library – that assumption is incorrect.

Access to the Law Library is determined by the Western Australian Parliament as per the Legal Profession (Law Library) Regulations 2016, specifically regulation 8. The committee referenced in regulation 7 is not the ALLA (WA) committee, rather it is the Library Advisory Committee. 

The Library Advisory Committee is a separate body comprised of 2 Judges, a Law Society representative, a Western Australian Bar representative, a Legal Practice Board representative, and two persons nominated by the Director General of the Department of Justice.

The Legal Profession (Law Library) Regulations 2016 are best read in conjunction with the Legal Profession Amendment Act 2016 – the purpose of that Act was to amend the Legal Profession Act 2008 to relieve the Legal Practice Board of its obligation to provide and maintain the Law Library at the Supreme Court of Western Australia. 

The Act was also amended to provide the State with the power to establish and manage a law library for the use of judiciary, local lawyers and other prescribed persons. Groups that were deprived of access by the 2016 changes in law include self-representing litigants (also known as litigants-in-person), law students, and other members of the general public.

Second Reading speeches for the Bills for these amendments reveal that access to the library was debated in parliament. Concerns were raised by Margaret Quirk, MLA about information regarding access to the library not being detailed in the Bill but left to regulations. 

At time of writing, the ALLA (WA) committee been advised by the Department of Justice that it is exploring options for providing legal reference service access to the groups that were deprived of access to the Law Library by the 2016 change in law. 

You can see our previous blog posts about this matter here and here



Western Australian Parliamentary Debates (Hansard)


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