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Friday, 19 April 1985
Page: 1552

(Question No. 120)

Mr Duncan asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 27 February 1985:

Has he or his Department sent a direction to magistrates in the Australian Capital Territory suggesting that they should order costs to follow the event in criminal cases; if so, what is the wording of this instruction.

Mr Lionel Bowen —The answer to the honourable member's question is:

Neither I nor my Department have given an instruction to magistrates in the Australian Capital Territory suggesting that they should order costs to follow the event in criminal cases.

In June 1984, following representations by the Law Society of the Australian Capital Territory seeking clarification of the policy of the Deputy Crown Solicitor in claiming costs in criminal proceedings, my predecessor identified a number of categories of cases where costs would not be sought as exceptions to a general rule of seeking costs in every case where the informant was successful. The categories are:

(A) Courts of Petty Sessions

(i) in undefended matters disposed of in the general list on the first or second return date of the summons

(ii) committal proceedings and trials upon indictment in the Supreme Court

(iii) where the defendant is required to undergo a jail sentence and it is unlikely that he would be in a position to pay

(iv) in cases where because of poverty, extreme hardship or other special circumstances, it would not be appropriate to seek an order for costs.

(B) Superior Courts

(i) proceedings on indictment in the Supreme Court

(ii) appeals whether against conviction or sentence emanating from trials on indictment.

Responsibility for prosecution work in the Australian Capital Territory has since passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions. He has initiated a review of the above- stated policy. The review is being conducted by the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions in the Australian Capital Territory, Mr R. Greenwood QC. The Director of Public Prosecutions will be advising me on the completion of the review.

My predecessor also asked officers of my Department to approach the Chief Magistrate in the Australian Capital Territory with the object of establishing an appropriate schedule of costs to be applied in Petty Sessions prosecution matters which schedule would eliminate any inconsistencies between magistrates in the amount of costs they award in prosecution matters.

The approach to the Chief Magistrate is being held in abeyance pending Mr Greenwood QC completing his review of the abovestated policy.