Adversary, Team Player or Collaborator? A Human Rights Analysis the Right to Counsel in Non-Adversarial Justice

Jennifer Black1

1 Principal Solicitor, Fitzroy Legal Service, Fitzroy Town Hall, PO Box 297, Fitzroy, Vic, 3065,

Problem solving courts, therapeutic jurisprudence and non-adversarial justice are no longer fledgling developments, but highly influential concepts in justice practice and policy. Their emergence reflects a frustration with traditional criminal justice structures, the focus on procedural rights rather then outcomes, and proof rather than truth. Puzzlingly there has been little consideration of human rights within this developing sphere. This presentation will examine the human right to counsel within a therapeutic model using the Neighbourhood Justice Centre (NJC) as a case study. The NJC provides a multi-jurisdictional court, a range of specialist treatment and support services, and crime prevention and community capacity building to the City of Yarra in Melbourne. This presentation draws on the author’s experience working as a criminal law practitioner at the NJC, utilising human rights principles to examine the challenges faced by legal practitioners in non-adversarial models.


Jennifer Black is the Principal Solicitor at Fitzroy Legal Service. Prior to this role Jennifer was a senior lawyer based at the Neighbourhood Justice Centre (NJC). Jennifer is an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist with the Law Institute of Victoria. She is currently undertaking a Master of Laws through the University of Melbourne and has an interest in human rights and international law, as these practice areas relate to criminal law.

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