Law Reform Commission of Western Australia
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Project 6 - Summary trial of indictable offences

 Project No. 6

Commenced: 1968
Completed: 1970

In most Australian jurisdictions there had been a movement towards the extension of the range of indictable offences that could be dealt with summarily. It was widely acknowledged that trials by judge and jury on indictment were lengthier and more costly than summary trials. It was also recognised that in many instances an accused may prefer summary trial because of its practical advantages. For instance, summary trials are resolved sooner, are often less public and the maximum penalty that may be imposed is generally less. It was recognised, however, that the time, costs and other disadvantages associated with trial on indictment would still be evident even if reforms were introduced to streamline the procedures for committal for trial.

Terms of Reference

In most Australian jurisdictions there had been a movement towards the extension of the range of indictable offences that could be dealt with summarily. It was widely acknowledged that trials by judge and jury on indictment were lengthier and more costly than summary trials. It was also recognised that in many instances an accused may prefer summary trial because of its practical advantages. For instance, summary trials are resolved sooner, are often less public and the maximum penalty that may be imposed is generally less. It was recognised, however, that the time, costs and other disadvantages associated with trial on indictment would still be evident even if reforms were introduced to streamline the procedures for committal for trial.

Outcomes

In 1972 Parliament passed several legislative amendments implementing the Committee’s recommendations: the Criminal Code Amendment Act 1972 (WA), the Justices Act Amendment Act 1972 (WA) and the Child Welfare Act Amendment Act (No 2) 1972 (WA).

The principal object of the Criminal Code Amendment Act 1972 was to extend the classes of indictable offences which may be tried summarily according to the Committee’s recommendations. The provisions of the Justices Amendment Act 1972 and the Child Welfare Amendment Act (No 2) 1972 were consequential upon the amendments that were made to the Criminal Code.

Last updated: 31-Jan-2017

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