Department of Justice and Attorney-General

Department of Justice and Attorney-General

Review of Criminal Procedure in Queensland's Magistrates Courts

Pending release of consultation paper

The reviewer is asked to make findings and recommendations to the Attorney-General for a
new legislative framework for contemporary and effective summary criminal procedure laws
in Queensland to replace the Justices Act.

The reviewer should develop the framework for summary criminal procedure laws that follows
the chronology of a criminal proceeding in the Magistrates Court, from instituting proceedings
to resolution, including an appeals process.

To remove any doubt, summary criminal procedure laws include committal proceedings and
mechanisms available to the court for managing how matters are dealt with, for example
closing the court, attendance of witnesses, access to the court files. It does not include
consideration of sentencing options or procedures.

In making recommendations, the reviewer should consider:

  • the role and context of the Magistrates Courts in the criminal justice system in Queensland;
  • alternative ways for the Magistrates Courts to deal with matters, and is not restricted to the existing summary criminal procedures contained in the Justices Act;
  • necessary or desirable reforms that achieve contemporary and effective summary criminal procedure laws and practices;
  • exploring options to improve existing summary criminal procedures;
  • consolidating existing summary criminal procedure laws where this is necessary to promote a contemporary and effective legislative framework;
  • summary criminal procedural laws that balance the interests of victims and accusedpersons;
  • more efficient and effective methods of the court dealing with criminal offences, including ways to reduce court operational costs and procedural delays;
    * adopting summary criminal procedures that enhance consistency across Queensland courts, where appropriate and particularly in relation to the CPR;
  • leveraging where relevant, existing criminal procedure reviews and reforms undertaken in Queensland and in other relevant jurisdictions that align with a contemporary and effective framework;
  • the need to protect and promote human rights;
  • supporting increased use of technology and electronic processes for summary criminal procedure, including electronic lodgement, filing and service of documents;
    * the extent to which existing legislation should be repealed or amended to give effect to the recommended new summary criminal procedure laws; and
  • any other related matters the reviewer considers relevant.

The review will also consider whether:

  • a single Magistrates Court of Queensland should be established; and
  • Magistrates and the Magistrates Courts should be retitled as Local Court Judges and Local Court/s respectively, having regard to the costs and benefits of such a change.