Principle 8: Justice to protect privacy should be accessible

2.43 The law should provide a range of means to prevent, reduce or redress serious invasions of privacy. Recommendations in this Report aim to facilitate access to justice for individuals affected by serious invasions of privacy. For the Women’s Legal Services NSW, access to justice means that

it must be fair, simple, affordable and easy to understand and navigate. It must also have pathways for early intervention to prevent further disadvantage.[66]

2.44 Many stakeholders submitted that any statutory cause of action or other remedy for serious invasions of privacy should be accessible to people with limited means as well as to those who can more easily afford the high costs of litigation.[67] The law should make appropriate provision for people with disability or others who require assistance in obtaining access to justice.[68] The Terms of Reference for the ALRC’s Inquiry into Equality, Capacity and Disability in Commonwealth Laws—being conducted at the same time as this Inquiry—refer to ensuring that Commonwealth laws and legal frameworks are responsive to the needs of people with disability and to advance, promote and respect their rights, in the area of access to justice and legal assistance program.[69]

2.45 The Productivity Commission has stated that a ‘well functioning justice system’:

means delivering fair and equitable outcomes as efficiently as possible and resolving disputes early, expeditiously and at the most appropriate level. A justice system which effectively excludes a sizable portion of society from adequate redress risks considerable economic and social costs.[70]

2.46 In Chapter 16, the ALRC recommends that the Privacy Commissioner be empowered to hear complaints about serious invasions of privacy. This may be one way of increasing access to justice. Other recommendations also encourage, without compelling, people to pursue alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.[71]