Thursday, 4 August 2016

Law Society condemns new bail review power

The Chair of the ACT Law Society’s Criminal Law Committee, Michael Kukulies-Smith, today expressed deep disappointment at the decision of the Legislative Assembly to support the introduction of a new bail review power for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The Law Society has consistently and strenuously argued against the introduction of the discretionary review power.

“The DPP already has the ability to seek a review of a decision to grant bail on certain grounds, including where there has been a change in circumstances, fresh evidence or new information relevant to the grant of bail,” said Mr Kukulies-Smith.

“This new review power can effectively be used by a junior prosecutor who simply disagrees with the decision of the court.  This is in the context of the court having just heard all of the evidence and arguments and determining that bail should be granted.  Despite the decision of the court, the objection of the prosecutor will mean the accused person is returned to jail for a period of time.

“The review power is inconsistent with the human rights principles said to be prized by the ACT Government.

“It is unfortunate that the Government is rushing to introduce the new power without a clear understanding of how it will operate in practice.  For example, the reduced review timeframes put forward by Government assumes Supreme Court judicial officers are available to hear review applications on weekends and public holidays.  This is a most inefficient use of the Court’s resources.

“The Society remains concerned at the lack of justification put forward by Government for the proposed changes.  In fact, the logical inference to be drawn from the Government’s introduction of the review power is that it lacks confidence in the Courts to appropriately manage bail applications.

“The Society is disappointed that the Canberra Liberals chose to support the new review power.  Mr Rattenbury is to be commended for his thoughtful consideration of the proposal and his continued opposition to it,” said Mr Kukulies-Smith.

For further information contact:
ACT Law Society, 02 6274 0300