Remand / Gaol Orders frustrated

forex factory Recently, problems have occurred with remandees and sentenced prisoners not being brought to the Magistrates’ Court for their appearance. This has occurred even for planned fixtures, which is very concerning. If you have encountered problems due to your client not being brought to court, please email Michelle Mykytowycz outlining the problem. We will raise these issues with the Court, police and Corrections.

Funding drought limits assistance

Buy Tastylia Online No Prescription Needed THE national shortage of legal aid funding means independent legal advice is not being provided to those facing criminal charges in magistrates courts unless they are likely to go to prison or can demonstrate special circumstances.

Research by the Law Council of Australia has found that the only exception is NSW, which has a more generous test that makes legal aid available if prison is “an available penalty”.

In other states, the “special circumstances” provision is normally applied in a way that means the applicant must suffer from a disability that is so serious it precludes self-representation, the Law Council found.

Melbourne silk David Neal SC, who is on the Law Council’s access to justice committee, said the research showed that the idea that all Australians enjoyed equality before the law was “just a lie”.

“A large part of the problem is the withdrawal of the commonwealth from proper funding for legal aid commissions,” Mr Neal said.

But the state governments shared responsibility for the problem because many of them were sending increasing numbers of serious matters to the lower courts and were creating new offences.

He said the federal government currently funded about 35 per cent of the national legal aid bill and this needed to return to at least 50 per cent.

He also believed the national partnership agreement between the commonwealth and the states on legal assistance should set a standard so that anyone facing criminal charges should be provided with legal aid, regardless of whether the offence could result in a prison term.

“A criminal conviction can have life-destroying consequences,” Mr Neal said.

“In Victoria alone, the Magistrates Court deals with 178,000 criminal cases per year, so the vastness of the injustice is reflected in that number.”

Those who were denied legal aid in the magistrates courts because they might not be at risk of prison were confronted by professional prosecutors and there was a clear “inequality of arms”.

Mr Neal said Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus had recognised the importance of legal aid funding and had increased the commonwealth’s contribution.

“But it is still sitting on about 35 per cent and it should be 50 per cent,” he said.

“We want a commitment from both major parties to bring the commonwealth commitment to 50 per cent,” he said.

He urged the Coalition to make a firm commitment – as the Greens have done – that they would return federal funding of legal aid to 50 per cent of the national bill.

Children in Court

The Bar is establishing a panel of volunteers willing to give pro bono advice to child witnesses giving evidence against a parent. A Child Witness advice kit has been developed for volunteers to make the process as streamlined as possible. All barristers are encouraged to join this panel. There was CPD on the topic on Tuesday 20 August 2013 by Judge Pullen and Magistrate Chambers which discussed this and other issues arising for vulnerable witnesses. If you would like to join this panel, please email Jacqueline Stone:

John McArdle QC

With great sadness the Criminal Bar Association mourns the death last Saturday of member John McArdle QC.  John was lovely man and contributed very much to the Bar during the 43 years he practised. 

Requiem Mass will be celebrated at The Sacred Heart Church, 116 Cotham Road, Kew, tomorrow, Wednesday 21 August 2013 at 11am.


CPD: DNA analysis (Mon 19 Aug)

Speaker(s): Dr Henry Roberts
DNA Analysis & Interpretation – Comparison on SPURS and STR mix

1 CPD point:  Professional Skills / Substantive Law
Time:  5.15pm – 6.15pm
Where:  Neil McPhee Room, Level 1, Owen Dixon Chambers East, 205 William St, Melbourne

VLRC Consultation: Mental impairment and fitness

The Victorian Law Reform Commission has released a Consultation Paper on the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997. It includes more than 100 questions about the operation of the Act and how it might be reformed. A group of CBA members met on 30 July to discuss a CBA submission, which is due by 23 August. If you have an interest or wish to contribute to the submission, please contact Simon Moglia.

Legal Aid Matters

As you may be aware, on Thursday last week the Victorian Bar and the LIV launched a petition on calling on the attorneys (and shadow attorneys) at both Federal and State level to make a commitment to legal aid.

Our ‘Legal Aid Matters’ petition has now reached over 700 signatures in just four days, and we’re hoping to reach at least 5,000 signatures before the Federal Election on September 7.

This is a significant issue for our members with the cuts to funding and the subsequent tightening of Legal Aid guidelines impacting heavily on equal access to justice for thousands of disadvantaged people. 

I urge you to go to the on-line petition and add your voice to the cause:

Click this link to support increased funding for legal aid by signing the petition.

Get further information at:

If you need any further information, please feel free to contact the Sally Bodman at the Bar Office on 

New CBA website

Welcome to our new website. Over the next few days it will fill quickly with new material and all the archives from the old site. We have adopted a ‘blog’ format for this site, which means more members of the committee will be able to add updates faster than ever. Thanks for your patience.