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Chief Justice Ferguson addresses the 2022 Australian Bar Association conference.

Chief Justice Ferguson said lawyers and judges adapted to remote justice in the pandemic, which had significant benefits for clients and practitioners.

“History has shown that after times of great upheaval, there can be nostalgia for the past and a desire to revert,” Chief Justice Ferguson said.

“Progress comes from holding on to the positive change that comes from difficult times. And there have been positives. We have found better ways of working together and serving the community.

“My message to you today is simple: let’s not snap back to March 2020. We need to have a discussion to bring together the best of the lessons learned through the pandemic and the best of what preceded it.”

“Don’t lose sight of the best that the recent past gave us,” she said.

Chief Justice Ferguson cited the increased flexibility, which “means you can operate from anywhere”.

“The time that would be spent getting to and from work, to and from court, or waiting at court can be better spent. Whether on more productive work or time with family and friends or other interests.

“The accelerated developments in technology have also made it far easier for people from suburban and regional areas, interstate or overseas to participate in hearings whether as lawyers, parties, or witnesses.

“There are benefits for lawyers, but more importantly there are benefits for your clients and the community. Reducing the costs of litigation and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of court processes improves access to justice.”

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