Contempt of Court: Report

Glossary

Balance of probabilities

The standard of proof in civil proceedings. Often described as ‘more likely than not’ or ‘more probable than not’. This is a lesser standard than beyond reasonable doubt.

Beyond reasonable doubt

The standard of proof in criminal proceedings. This is a higher standard than the balance of probabilities.

Common law

Law that derives its authority from past decisions of the courts rather than from legislation.

Contemnor

The term traditionally used to describe a person who has been found to have committed a contempt of court. In this report the term is used only in the context of quotes from submissions.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)

The official who makes decisions about whether to prosecute serious criminal matters and is independent of government. The Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions is responsible for the prosecution of most serious criminal offences under Victorian law. The Office of Public Prosecutions conducts criminal prosecutions on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Indictable offences

Serious crimes which attract higher maximum penalties. Prosecuted by the Office of Public Prosecutions. Usually triable before a judge and jury.

Indictable offences triable summarily

Less serious indictable offences which can be heard before a magistrate.

Indictment

The charge or charges against the accused that the Director of Public Prosecutions has filed in the Supreme or County Court.

Inferior court

Any court which is not a superior court. At common law this includes both the County Court of Victoria and the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria.

Inherent jurisdiction

The authority to adjudicate vested in a court as a consequence of it being a court of a particular description, notably a superior court of unlimited jurisdiction. Inherent jurisdiction extends to matters necessary for proper administration of justice and includes the power to prevent abuse of process and to punish for contempt of court.

Judicial direction/jury direction

Instructions provided by the judge to the jury. These directions guide the conduct of jurors and provide instructions on what they need to consider in deciding the case.

New media

The use of digital technologies for mass communication, such as online news, blogs and social media. New media are easily accessible to a worldwide audience, publish content instantly, are interactive, and are an alternative to traditional media such as hard-copy newspapers, television and radio broadcasts.

Office of Public
Prosecutions (OPP)

The independent statutory authority that institutes, prepares and conducts criminal prosecutions in the County and Supreme Courts on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Open justice

To maintain confidence in the integrity and independence of the courts the principle of open justice requires that the administration of justice take place in open court.

Order

A direction by a court or tribunal that is final and binding unless overturned on appeal.

Practice Direction

A procedural guideline issued by a judicial officer to guide the practice of a court or tribunal.

Prosecutorial body

Refers to either Victoria Police, which prosecutes less serious criminal offences (summary offences) or the Victorian Office of Public Prosecutions, which prosecutes more serious criminal offences (indictable offences). Others include the Environment Protection Authority, under the Environment Protection Act 2017 (Vic), and WorkSafe Victoria, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) and other occupational health and safety laws and workers’ compensation laws.

Prothonotary

The principal registrar and chief administrative officer of the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Sub judice

A Latin term meaning ‘before a judge’. A matter that is still being considered by a court and is not yet decided.

Summary offences

Less serious offences heard by a magistrate without a jury.

Summary trial

A trial involving a judge or magistrate as the sole fact finder. Can also be described as a trial being heard ‘summarily’, that is without a jury.

Superior court

A higher court of record or general jurisdiction. The High Court of Australia and the Supreme Court of Victoria are both superior courts with inherent jurisdiction.

Take-down orders

An order made by a court requiring a person to remove material that has already been published, either in print or online.

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)

The tribunal established under the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998 (Vic) that hears civil and administrative matters in the State of Victoria.

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