About the Criminal Procedure Review—Magistrates Courts

This review has been established to undertake a comprehensive review of criminal procedure laws in Queensland’s Magistrates Courts.

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, has been appointed as the independent reviewer (the reviewer).

The scope of the review is outlined in the Terms of reference.

The reviewer has been 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 will be 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 is 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 involves broad consultation, including with the Queensland judiciary, legal stakeholders, and the community generally.

Feedback from this consultation will inform the reviewer’s considerations and 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.

Consultation

On 29 April 2022 we released a Consultation paper which asks questions about the current criminal procedures in the Magistrates Courts, the way processes work and views on possible improvements.

Find out more about the consultation and how to have your say.

Contact us

You can register to receive information about the review by emailing Criminal-Procedure-R@justice.qld.gov.au.

You can also post your enquiry to:

Criminal Procedure Review—Magistrates Courts
GPO Box 149
BRISBANE QLD 4001

Please continue to visit this page as we will be adding more information on the review.

More information