Queensland Law Society media release
Queensland Law Society comment on Government reform of the criminal and civil justice system
|| 22 Jul 2009
||07 3842 5814
||07 3221 9329
The Queensland Law Society looks forward to contributing to the debate surrounding the Government's announcement yesterday to modernise and streamline Queensland's criminal and civil justice systems. In particular, the Society awaits the Government's draft legislation with interest.
QLS President Ian Berry said that the Society had for some months been heavily involved, and had provided very detailed submissions, to Martin Moynihan AO QC in the course of his review. As his report had only been made available yesterday, the Society looked forward to studying it in detail, along with the proposed Government legislation when it was tabled. At this stage the Society had limited information to consider when responding to yesterday's Government's announcement.
"While we have yet to study the detail of the proposed reforms, we have previously indicated our support for reforms to the criminal justice system which increase the speed and efficiency of resolving matters in the criminal courts, provided there is no resulting loss of rights to accused persons," Mr Berry said.
"Generally speaking, we support increasing the range of offences that can be dealt with by magistrates, again provided accused persons retain the right to choose to have indictable offences dealt with by a jury if they wish.
"We have also made detailed submissions in relation to the issues of prosecution disclosure and reform of the committal process. We believe the current prosecution disclosure regime has not been a success, and requires a significant overhaul. Increased disclosure obligations and compliance measures directed towards police, combined with better training of police, will assist with this."
Mr Berry said the Society was concerned to ensure that committal hearings were retained, and would not like to see them effectively abolished or reduced to merely administrative "paperwork" processes.
"We have suggested a number of ways in which the current system of committal hearings can be streamlined and improved without any loss of rights for accused persons," Mr Berry said. "We await with interest to see the Government's proposal in this regard."