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Women and the Law

by Jacqui Brauman Jacqui Brauman No Comments

What is Legal Literacy?

Legal literacy, or legal awareness, is sometimes also thought of as public legal education. But it essentially empowers individuals regarding issues involving the law, who are not lawyers, judges or others in the legal industry.

The goals and objectives of legal literacy is for the public to:

  1. recognise when they have an issue that has a legal resolution, or they have a legal right or obligation
  2. learn how to find relevant free resources and information that you need
  3. learn how to find and work with a lawyer who has the correct skills for what you need
  4. learning how to communicate in a way that is clear and respected by your own lawyer or even others you are negotiating with
  5. learning how to take the necessary action to avoid problems, and where possible, how to help themselves appropriately
  6. having confidence that the legal system will provide a remedy and understanding of the process enough to know when justice has been done, and
  7. even being able to hold your lawyer accountable for quality of service and effectiveness. 

Legal literacy can empower people to demand justice, accountability and effective remedies. Legal issues always have the potential to become a crisis if ignorance prevents someone from anticipating the legal troubles and getting timely information or advice. Crises clearly magnify the impact on someone’s life unnecessarily. 

Without legal literacy people can also feel intimidated and alienated from the law. This may lead people from coming into conflict with the law, having poor experiences, and not being able to obtain help when they need it.

Traditional models of trying to promote legal awareness and legal literacy has typically been boring, hard to engage with, and not used as a preventative measure. It has been provided through lectures and workshops, crash programs, short courses, books, posters, brochures, and materials distributed primarily by government organisations.

The rule of law is that everyone is subject to the law – individuals, lawmakers, corporations, governments and Kings. But without legal literacy, the concept of the rule of law doesn’t provide the protects it should, if people are giving up their rights without knowing.

Hence, education and increasing legal literacy is imperative. 

by Jacqui Brauman Jacqui Brauman No Comments

How to find the legal information I need

Finding relevant legal information that you need, in a timely manner, can be quite difficult.

Fortunately or unfortunately, there is a lot of legal blogs and free articles online – mainly published by law firms trying to get good SEO. But many of these blogs are written in language that is not clear, or it is written for another lawyer.

Also, if you did a Google search, you are likely to have to go through a number of pages of information, with the first set of information not very relevant, but being paid for. The organisation of legal information, and how Google displays relevant, does not work.

So where should you start?

The Law Handbook is a great free resource, with a lot of easy-to-read information over lots of topics, and plenty of links to further information. This is mainly Victorian based. This is published by the Fitzroy Legal Centre.

There are lots of other Community Legal Centres, if you Google for your closest one they are probably better able to steer you in the right direction than Google itself.

For those in New South Wales:

Womens’ Legal Service

NSW Legal Aid

For Victorians:

Womens’ Legal Service

Victoria Legal Aid

For Queenslanders:

Womens’ Legal Service QLD

Northern QLD Women’s Legal Service

Legal Aid QLD

For South Australians:

Women’s Legal Service SA

Legal Services Commission SA

For Tasmanians:

Women’s Legal Service Tasmania

Legal Aid Commission Tas

For Western Australians:

Women’s Legal Centre WA

Legal Aid WA

For businesses:

Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman

by Jacqui Brauman Jacqui Brauman No Comments

5 Ways to Resolve a Dispute (Out of Court)

5 Ways to Resolve a Dispute (Out of Court)

Ombudsman

There are a lot of free services providing ways to resolve a dispute out of court.

If you have a dispute with a business is a certain industry, there is often an ombudsman who will help resolve the dispute for free:

  • aged care
  • airlines
  • banking and insurance
  • building
  • energy and water
  • privacy
  • telecommunications
  • government.

If you have a consumer complaint, your State will have a Consumer Affairs body with a dispute resolution service.

ways to resolve a dispute

If you run a small business, your State business commissioner often has a dispute resolution service. There is also the Small and Family Business Ombudsman.

Utilise any free services that you can. 

Negotiate

You can negotiate yourself, or you can hire someone like a lawyer to help you to negotiate. 

You need to determine what you really want, and what your next best result would be, and then the result that you’ll accept and live with but not love. 

Start the process of putting your offer to the other party, and they are likely to counter-offer.

You will go backwards and forwards with offers, hopefully narrowing the issues, or coming up with creative solutions, until you come to something that you can both agree on. 

Then sign some form of settlement agreement. 

Conciliate

Conciliation is process where an independent third person that you both agree on helps you to resolve your dispute. It is usually a person with technical experience and knowledge in the specific area that you’ve got the dispute over. 

A conciliator will usually not make a decision or judgement about the dispute, but will provide their advice and technical guidance. They will not take sides. 

This can be a voluntary process, or it could be the dispute resolution process built into a contract.

Arbitrate

An arbitration also involves an independent third person who is appointed. They are usually appointed by a dispute resolution body, like an industry association or regulator.

An arbitrator will usually have a technical background as well, and you will submit your case to the arbitrator who will make a decision about the dispute. 

If you’re not happy with the arbitrator’s decision, there is limited circumstances where you can appeal to a court. 

Mediate

A mediation is closer to a conciliation, but a mediator is usually a professionally trained mediator to help resolve disputes, and not got any technical knowledge in your particular area of dispute.

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