Agenda item 8: Finances

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Justice Soothsayer
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Agenda item 8: Finances

Post by Justice Soothsayer »

[quote:2pl0nckb]8. Financial issues
Who should set court costs? Should attorneys fees be part of costs?
Who should handle money collected or disbursed by the judiciary?[/quote:2pl0nckb]
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Ashcroft Burnham
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Post by Ashcroft Burnham »

The courts should be financially independent: they should not have to rely on state subsidy that could be withdrawn as a threat to be used if a particular case is not going the way that the government would like. There is no reason why people who use a service should not have to pay for it, although my expertise with figures is not such that I would want to set the long-term figures myself: those with more financial accumen should do that.

Fines, incidentally, should always be paid to the treasury. Court costs should be paid by the losing party at the end of the case to discourage frivolous claims, and ensure that those who have been wronged do not have to count the cost of seeking vindication in the courts.
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Oni Jiutai
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Post by Oni Jiutai »

There seem to be 2 questions here: firstly, should the courts be self-financing and, secondly, what the cost structure should be.

I'm not convinced that the courts need to be self-financing to avoid political pressure. Firstly, they're not in RL and it seems to work. Secondly, another part of the government threatening to remove funds in order to pressure a judge would be so destructive when it (inevitably) became public - not to mention would be so damaging to their case anyway (judges tend to be a cranky lot in those circumstances) - that I think we can rely on those as disincentives.

Also, I would worry about the accusation that Judges were issuing fines, fees, e.t.c. simply to gain money for 'their' bit of the system.

Whatever the answer to that, I don't think the Judges themselves should ever touch any of the money. It should be handled and administered by somebody else (possibly the Judiciary Commission). But this may be RL prejudice.

I'm not sure I have a view on lawyer's costs. But some sensibly set court costs should exist in order to cut down the possibility of frivolous claims.
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Ashcroft Burnham
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Post by Ashcroft Burnham »

[quote="Oni Jiutai":153qdrgr]I'm not convinced that the courts need to be self-financing to avoid political pressure. Firstly, they're not in RL and it seems to work. Secondly, another part of the government threatening to remove funds in order to pressure a judge would be so destructive when it (inevitably) became public - not to mention would be so damaging to their case anyway (judges tend to be a cranky lot in those circumstances) - that I think we can rely on those as disincentives.

Also, I would worry about the accusation that Judges were issuing fines, fees, e.t.c. simply to gain money for 'their' bit of the system.[/quote:153qdrgr]

Ahh, the plan was that (1) all fines would go to the treasury, not the judiciary, and (2) the court fees would be fixed in such a way that the fees would be the same no matter what the substantive outcome of the case, so these two concerns are misplaced.

[quote:153qdrgr]Whatever the answer to that, I don't think the Judges themselves should ever touch any of the money. It should be handled and administered by somebody else (possibly the Judiciary Commission). But this may be RL prejudice.[/quote:153qdrgr]

That is exactly what the Judiciary Commisison is for: the Constitution states that the Chair of the Judiciary Commisison has the power to "... to expend any monies held by the Judiciary Commission for any purposes connected with the discharge of any of the functions of the Judiciary Commission...".

Courts being self-financing is actually a very good idea: state interests will always want to cut back on public expenditure, and courts are soft targets because their position of neutrality means that they cannot effectively mount a political campaign. Being properly fnanced is essential to success, and we cannot rely in the long term on people doing work for free. The concept of the Judiciary Commission is to allow an effective means of managing the resources of the judiciary to prevent excess governmental interference, withotu at the same time being able to be an infinite drain on public funds.
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Pelanor Eldrich
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Loser pays and monies collected and disbursed by Treasurer

Post by Pelanor Eldrich »

I do like the concept of loser paying court costs because it discourages frivolous lawsuits. I realize of course that the court costs we're contemplating are tiny when compared to the time investment.

The court costs should be collected by the Treasurer, who should also, incidentally, disburse budgeted monies to the Judiciary for operation. The court cost structure is set in the code of procedure and will be changed, as required, by the RA.

The Treasury's CDS financial reports will surely indicate whether the Judiciary is a money sink or not. The RA will approve the budget line item for the Judiciary (subject to GM veto).

There is plenty of room for self-financing, or even profitting, by opening up an arbitration business inside the CDS. Have at it! :)
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