Celebrating excellence in judicial administration.

A selection of moments from the AIJA award ceremony.
On Friday 1 March 2024, the Judicial College of Victoria’s Judicial Information Advisor Matthew Weatherson was presented with the 2023 Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration (AIJA) Award for Excellence in Judicial Administration.

In a ceremony held at the Judicial College of Victoria, AIJA President Justice Murray Aldridge presented Matthew with the award celebrating his work in developing judicial precedent builders, a digital resource that streamlines the preparation of jury directions.

Using an issues-based questionnaire and document automation technology, the precedent builder tool navigates the Judicial College of Victoria’s Civil and Criminal Juries Charge Books to collate relevant directions and jury handouts, providing judicial officers with a single consolidated set of materials to customise for their individual cases.

Justice Aldridge stated that the precedent builders are a “game changer”, which have been embraced at all court levels. “The value they provide to the administration of justice cannot be overestimated.”

Since the official launch of the precedent builder initiative in September 2022, the College has received an overwhelmingly positive response from both experienced and newly appointed judicial officers, specifically regarding ease of use, adaptability and amount of time saved.

County Court of Victoria Chief Judge Peter Kidd spoke on behalf of the Board of the College, noting the “value and genius” of the precedent builder initiative.

“At a time when so much of the focus in IT is on concepts such as large language models and chat bots, the precedent builder initiative recognises and supports the human dimension of judging – they help judges navigate the path of evaluating evidence and applying the relevant legal tests to produce a well-reasoned and clearly articulated direction or decision.

“The precedent builders are a further example of the role the College plays in supporting the work of the judiciary through the provision of education and information resources.”

In accepting the award, Matthew acknowledged that the project was not a “one-man show”, thanking his colleagues Dr Emma Kong, Emma Ward and Yu Xuan Peh for their significant contribution to the completion of the initiative, as well as Justice Tsalamandris of the Supreme Court of Victoria, Court Services Victoria CEO Louise Anderson and Judicial College of Victoria CEO Samantha Burchell for their ongoing support.

“It’s exciting to be, as far as I know, the first judicial education body to apply this technology to model jury directions,” said Matthew. “I hope that it, like all of the College’s activities, continues to support the efficient administration of justice in Victoria.”