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26 February, 2010  
Whose money?

Update ... Victorian Supreme Court judges take legal advice on salary overpayments … Stand-off with the government … Nothing so simple as just paying back the money

imageNo decision has emerged from a meeting of Victorian Supreme Court judges on Thursday evening (Feb. 25), which was supposed to resolve the vexed issue of whether to refund to the government overpayments of their judicial salaries.

The matter was on the agenda for the Council of Judges and is causing considerable angst.

Last August a letter went to all judicial officers from John Griffin, executive director, courts, Department of Justice.

He pointed out that judges and magistrates had been overpaid because the Attorney General Rob (F*#@&%*) Hulls has signed certificates pursuant to the Judicial Salaries Act that contained the incorrect date for the commencement of a new schedule of payments.

At the time the department had been acting on the (wrong) independent advice of a solicitor.

A spokeswoman for CJ (Earl) Warren told Justinian on Friday (Feb. 26) that there’s been “no resolution” of the issue and “the ball is now back in the Attorney General’s court”.

The judicial overpayments amount to a total of $500,000 – more than $3,000 for each Supreme Court judge and just under $3,000 for County Court judges.

For magistrates the overpayment worked out at around $100 a day since October 2008.

Most magistrates and County Court judges have just paid back the money, either as a lump sum or over a series of regular instalments.

But nothing is quite so simple for Supreme Court and Court of Appeal judges, most of whom have not coughed-up.

They have taken legal advice on their obligations – understandable for a group who in a previous manifestation spent their lives advising people how to get around tiresome bureaucratic requirements.

The Supremes are now onto their third advice from senior counsel.

The Attorney General’s minder said she would get back to us with a response after the weekend.

Schedule of judicial salaries for Victoria