Improved Accountability for Court-Managed Disability Funds

Legislation to modernise the management of funds held by the Supreme Court on behalf of people with a disability and those under eighteen has been introduced in the Victorian Parliament.

Victorian Attorney-General, Robert Clark said the legislation would improve transparency and accountability for more than 5,200 Victorians whose funds and assets are managed and administered by the Supreme Court.

“Approximately $1.5 billion dollars belonging to people who are under a ‘legal disability’ is managed by an Office of the Supreme Court called Funds in Court,” Clark said.

A person is under a legal disability if they are under 18, or have an intellectual or physical disability or both, usually as a result of accident, injury or illness.

In the absence of another administrator, the Supreme Court can order that funds awarded to a person under a legal disability be administered on their behalf by the Senior Master. The Senior Master is an Associate Judge of the Court who is supported by the Supreme Court’s Funds in Court office.

“Funds in Court invests money awarded to beneficiaries, and administers payments to meet the needs of beneficiaries, for example, by buying a car or a home,” he said.

Clark said that while Funds in Court has been run professionally by the Court for many years, there was a need to update the legislation governing Funds in Court to better provide for and facilitate modern funds management practices and accountability to beneficiaries.

Among the reforms contained in the legislation are:

  • revisions to objectives, legislated annual reporting and audit requirements, annual statements to beneficiaries and information statements to new beneficiaries;
  • clarification that there is no presumption that funds for a person under a legal disability are to be administered by Funds in Court rather than another funds administrator;
  • enabling the Court to have some, or all, of the funds it holds managed by or vested in one or more external funds managers or custodians;
  • setting out procedures for beneficiaries to apply to the Court to transfer their funds to an external funds administrator; and
  • providing for a complaints handling procedure for services provided by Funds in Court, along with a requirement to report annually on complaints.
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Topics:
Legal, Corrections, Justice System

Author:
Pro Bono News

Date published:
Thu 18th Sep, 2014