Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 1 May 1991



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 1 May 1991

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Parliamentary Record 3


Debates for 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 1 May 1991 the child who, more often than not, is financially unable to meet payment of any order of the court. The position at common law may be contrasted with the position under some civil codes of continental Europe. The effect of these provisions is that parents of children who cause damage are presumed to be at fault. Such a presumption is rebuttable by a parent who can persuade the court that he took the care of a reasonable, prudent parent. In the United States, in addition to the common law, tort statutes have been passed in most states imposing various degrees of responsibility on parents for the wrongful actions of their children. Under such statutes, parents are responsible for the wilful, malicious, intentional or unlawful acts of their minors. There is usually a ceiling ranging from a low of $250 to a high of $15 000 on the amount which can be recovered from the parents. In some United States jurisdictions, the liability is limited to 1 unemancipated1 minors living with parents. A key characteristic of most of the United States' parent liability statutes is that the parent is liable even if there is no evidence that the parent failed to use reasonable care. In most states, it appears that there is no defence that the parent attempted to properly supervise the activities of the child. Further, it appears that, in order to recover from the parent, there is no need to show that the parent was somehow at fault. The issue is whether, in a common law jurisdiction such as ours, where more often than not the victim has to institute proceedings against an impecunious child, it is right for the loss in such a situation to fall on the innocent victim. This government is of the view that our society is now saying that it is not satisfactory that the loss fall to the innocent victim but rather that, if it is to fall somewhere, it falls to the parents. It was for these reasons that this government introduced the Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill into the February 1990 sittings of the Legislative Assembly. The purpose of that bill was to allow the Juvenile Court to make an order for restitution against the parents of the juvenile offender where the juvenile offender cannot pay the restitution 1n whole or in part, and where it is not unreasonable to make such an order against the parent in the circumstances of the case. The bill also allowed the Juvenile Court to order that the parents of the juvenile contribute to a maximum of $100 per week towards the cost of detention, where the juvenile offender is sentenced for a period of detention at a juvenile detention centre. Following consultation on the bill, a decision was made not to proceed with it for a number of reasons. Those reasons included concern that the ability of the Juvenile Court to make such orders could slow down the processes in the Juvenile Court. The package of bills being introduced today is based on the government's perception of the need fairly to adjust the loss as between parent, child and victim. However, because of the problems associated with asking the Juvenile Court to make restitution orders against parents, a new approach has been taken giving victims the right to institute civil proceedings against the parents. Accordingly, it has been decided simply to confine any amendment to the Juvenile Justice Act to the ability of the court to order that parents pay towards the cost of detention of juvenile offenders. It has been further decided to make parents liable when their children cause damage intentionally to the property of another. Turning to the Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill being introduced today, that bill enables the Juvenile Court to make an order against the parents to contribute towards the cost of the detention of a juvenile offender at a 866

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