Court Backlog: Indictable matters in the Magistrates Court
The Justice Miscellaneous (Court Backlog and Related Matters) Act (the Act) commences on 1 July 2021.
The Act introduces a number of summary ‘mirror offences’ of existing indictable offences and increases the jurisdiction of the Magistrates’ Court. This will enable more cases to be heard in the Magistrates’ Court.
The other significant change concerns preliminary proceedings. In essence the Act will see indictable cases remain in the Magistrates’ Court until there is an election for a preliminary proceeding or committal to the Supreme Court.
TLA has introduced a stage-of-matter fee structure for indictable matters in the Magistrates’ Court. The one grant of aid will take most cases from first remand through to committal to the Supreme Court or the completion of the case as a summary plea of guilty.
This new approach supports practitioners to engage with the prosecution to ensure the timely progression of cases. It also avoids practitioners having to make multiple requests for extensions of assistance. Consistent with existing guidelines, practitioners will be asked to provide a report as to the outcome when submitting their invoice.
TLA will monitor the operation of the new system and welcome feedback from practitioners.