About the Criminal Procedure Review—Magistrates Courts
The review of criminal procedure laws in Queensland’s Magistrates Courts has been completed.
Background to the review
The Justices Act 1886 (Justices Act) sets out the current criminal procedure laws applying in the Magistrates Courts. The Justices Act was written in the 1880s and—although it is still used every day in the Magistrates Court—has not been fully reviewed and is difficult to read and understand.
Mr Michael Shanahan AM, a retired District Court judge, was appointed as the independent reviewer (the reviewer).
The scope of the review is outlined in the Terms of reference.
The reviewer was asked to make findings and recommendations for a new legislative framework for contemporary and effective criminal procedure laws in Queensland’s Magistrates Courts. This new framework will follow the order of events in a criminal proceeding in the Magistrates Courts, from starting proceedings to finalisation, including an appeals process.
The following was considered as part of the review:
- options for improving and consolidating existing Magistrates Courts criminal procedure laws
- alternative ways the Magistrates Courts could deal with criminal matters
- supporting the increased use of technology and electronic processes
- how laws can balance the interests of victims and accused persons
- the need to protect and promote human rights.
The reviewer was also asked to consider if:
- 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.
The review involved broad consultation, including with the Queensland judiciary, legal stakeholders, and the community generally.
Feedback from this consultation has informed the reviewer’s considerations and will assist in shaping a new legislative framework for contemporary and effective criminal procedure laws in Queensland’s Magistrates Courts to ultimately replace the Justices Act.
Find out more about the consultation process, which has now closed.
The review's report has been given to the Attorney-General, in accordance with its Terms of reference.