Committals: Issues Paper (html)


The Victorian Government has asked the Victorian Law Reform Commission to review and recommend legislative, procedural or administrative changes to Victoria’s committal procedure.

The Commission’s approach to this reference is guided by the Terms of Reference, which recognise that committals form a major part of Victoria’s pre-trial criminal procedure. The Terms also allow for exploring whether committals should be maintained, abolished, replaced or reformed.

In exploring the role of committals in pre-trial proceedings, the principles and goals that the Terms of Reference require the Commission to consider include:

• minimising trauma to victims and witnesses

• identifying at an early stage charges that should proceed summarily

• encouraging appropriate early guilty pleas

• enhancing the efficiency of the criminal justice system

• ensuring the fair trial rights of accused persons

• facilitating the efficient use of court time

• encouraging parties’ proper preparation for trial

• improving early disclosure processes

• minimising the need for witnesses to give evidence multiple times

• encouraging best practice for supporting victims.

The Commission is also requested to consider the impacts of its recommendations on all parts of the criminal justice system, including resource implications.

The scope of these terms of reference is such that the Commission, in effect, is asked to recommend the form or design of pre-trial criminal procedure that most efficiently and effectively achieves and upholds the above goals and principles.

This may include the Commission recommending:

• maintaining the present committal system

• reforming the present committal system

• abolishing the present committal system and replacing it with a new pre-trial procedure.

In doing so the Commission will gather all available and relevant data, and undertake a principled, evidence-based comparative assessment of the various possible models and identify which of these models would best uphold the principles and achieve the goals expressed in the terms of reference.

As the issues contemplated by the terms are nuanced and will attract a range of views, I encourage anyone with an interest in them to make a written submission to the Commission by 16 August 2019. The method of making a submission is stated on page vii of this issues paper.

Bruce Gardner PSM

Acting Chair

Victorian Law Reform Commission

June 2019

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