Major Indictable Review: No tsunami of cases but needs improvement

A review considering the effectiveness of reforms to the management of major indictable offences has recommended changes to the way matters are dealt with, including prescribing time limits for disclosure and priority given to child sexual assault cases.

Attorney-General, Vickie Chapman today released the review, which was conducted by former Supreme Court Justice the Hon Brian Martin AO QC after the reforms had been in place for a year.

“While Mr Martin acknowledged that it was too early to draw any conclusions about the overall effectiveness of the scheme, he did note there were positive signs regarding its impact on the operations of the Magistrates Court,” Ms Chapman said.

“His review has, however, highlighted some issues with the operation of the scheme and recommended changes aimed at improving the way matters are dealt with.”

Mr Martin’s recommendations include:

  • The introduction of prescribed time limits for disclosure and charge determination
  • The introduction of a progress check before a judicial registrar in some circumstances
  • The introduction of mandatory conferences
  • That legal officers from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), not SA Police, appear at all second appearances and thereafter
  • That priority be given to sexual assault cases involving child complainants
  • Legislative amendment to provide flexibility in the timetable between committal and arraignment in a superior court.

“Mr Martin has conducted a comprehensive review, which included extensive discussions with members of the legal profession and other relevant stakeholders,” Ms Chapman said.

“Importantly, he noted there was “no tsunami” of cases building in the Magistrates Court.

“This does not mean, though, that we can’t look to see where deficiencies exist and seek to improve the system.

“I thank Mr Martin for his detailed work, and will be giving careful consideration to each of his recommendations.”

Mr Martin has also encouraged consideration of a review of the current internal DPP and SA Police procedures. 

A copy of Mr Martin’s Report can be found at: www.agd.sa.gov.au/major-indictable-reform-review