Failure to Appear in Court in Response to Bail

The Victorian Law Reform Commission's first community law project, this review of certain sections of the  Bail Act 1977 (Vic) was prompted by an approach in 2001 by the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service. 

The review considered the operation of section 4(2)(c) of the Bail Act, where a person who has been charged with an offence is released on bail but then fails to appear at the court hearing. In such circumstances the person is only entitled to further bail if they can show that the failure to appear was due to ‘causes beyond their control.’ This provision limited the decision-maker's discretion and, in practice, unfairly affected disadvantaged groups, including Aboriginal people.

Our draft Recommendation Paper, published in 2002, sought responses to two options for reform. Of the 11 submissions, most supported the first option for reform, that section 4(2)(c) be repealed. This was recommended in the Commission’s final report on 7 June 2002.

Implementation

In 2005, section 4(2)(c) of the Bail Act 1977 (Vic) was repealed pursuant to the Commission’s recommendations. The effect of this was to give courts a broader discretion to take all relevant factors into account when deciding whether to grant bail to a person. 

In introducing the amendment the Attorney-General stated that the repeal would ensure that the bail system operates in a fairer way for Indigenous people, people from newly arrived communities and people with a physical or intellectual disability.

Community Law Reform Projects are conducted in accordance with section 5(1)(b) of the Victorian Law Reform Commission Act 2000 (Vic), which empowers the Commission to initiate inquiries of general community concern, provided they are limited in size and scope. More about Community Law Reform can be found here 

Failure to Appear in Court in Response to Bail: Report

The Victorian Law Reform Commission's first Community Law report came out of a suggestion from the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service to review...

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