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Number 9

Secretary Summary 

Greetings from Sydney, recent centre of World Rugby attention. 

Well, how quickly 2003 came and went.   

This brief newsletter contains comments on:- 

  • Terrorism Law
  • Commonwealth Law Conference 2005
  • New CAPSL Chair and Treasurer
  • Automated Administrative Decision making
  • Developments about Guidance on Ethical Issues for Government Solicitor's

 Terrorism Law 

From my perspective, in Australia, it has been an unusual year for public sector lawyers.  The "war on terrorism" and the fallout from the war in Iraq has given rise to legislation being introduced in a number of jurisdictions to do with terrorism and antiterrorism. 

Public Sector lawyers might be involved in the drafting of the legislation, its implementation and or its enforcement. 

All such roles involve a delicate balancing of the public/security interest on the rights of individuals affected by the legislation.  In dealing with that balance Public Sector lawyers have a special role. 

The American Bar Association's Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division's  Public Lawyer (Vol. 11, no.2) Summer 2003, contains a most interesting article entitled Homeland Security: Organizing the New Department and Facing Challenges. 

The manner in which prisoners incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay are intended to be tried by the government of the United States of America has generated much debate.  An article on that topic prepared by the Lawyers Reform Association can be found at http://www.lra.org.au/media_releases/hicks.cfm  

CAPSL Chair and Treasurer 

Negotiations have been finalised in late December 2003 for the appointment of a new Chair of CAPSL. 

Subject to certain formalities with the Commonwealth Law Association being finalised, our new Chair will soon take over from James Syme. I take the opportunity to thank James Syme for all his hard work as Chair. 

MIKE KENDALL, County Secretary of West Sussex County Council, and the Immediate Past President of the Association of Council Secretaries and Solicitors (ACSeS) is CAPSL's new Chair.   

He is West Sussex County Councilís Monitoring Officer and is responsible for delivery of the County Councilís programme for complying with the Freedom of Information Act. 

He was formerly Director of Corporate Services at Portsmouth City Council, and previously held positions with Nottinghamshire County Council and the City of Bradford Council. 

I hope to have some comments from Mike for our next edition. 

The recently appointed Treasurer of CAPSL is Michael Antrum of the University of Western Sydney.  Michael is also a member of the Lawyers Reform Association.  Details of the association can be obtained at http://www.lra.org.au 

Commonwealth Law Conference 2005 

As I presently understand it, final dates for the above conference look like being 12-15 September 2005. 

I have recently had some discussion with the Secretary of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association, Graeme Mew, as to CAPSLís possible role at the 2005 conference.  Those discussions will continue. 

At this early stage negotiations continue as to whether the contribution of CAPSL will be part of the mainstream conference or whether it will have separate satellite meeting, as has been the case in the past.   

Given the importance of public sector legal issues in all countries in the Commonwealth, it is my view that, if possible, CAPSL should be part of the mainstream conference.   

At this stage, it is too early to determine whether CAPSL can provide enough speakers on Public Sector Legal issues sufficient for a whole day or whether an afternoon one morning session is more appropriate. 

As public sector and private sector mesh more and more, I believe it would be in the interests of all lawyers for sessions to be held which can be attended by both public and private sector legal practitioners. 

Often, in my opinion, private sector lawyers do not understand the needs of the public sector.  Similarly, some public sector lawyers might benefit from being able to discuss matters of mutual interest with private sector lawyers, especially where issues involve both sectors.

 Automated Administrative Decision making 

The Australian Administrative Review Council has recently called for submissions in respect of the use of computer equipment and programs in automated Administrative Decision Making.

 This concept, involving as it does the prospect of decisions affecting the rights and obligations of individuals being made in a manner in which the decision maker is a machine not a human being, raises a multiplicity of legal and computer issues. 

The Administrative Review Council convened a forum in Melbourne in November 2003 to discuss the issues.   

Depending upon how successful that forum is, the Administrative Review Council may also hold the forum in other locations. 

Guidance on Ethical Issues for Government Solicitor's  

The New South Wales Law Society recently formally released the above discussion paper.  It is an update of the draft referred to in the previous edition of this newsletter. The document is available online at http://www.lawsociety.com.au or


 The paper was released at the recent NSW Law Society Government Solicitor's Continuing Legal Education seminar held at Parliament House, Sydney, NSW.

The comments contained in this newsletter are not intended to be and are not to be taken as advice to any person in respect of the matters noted. Any duty of care is expressly excluded. Similarly, the content of any articles referred to or hyperlinked are not endorsed as the opinion of CAPSL or the writer.