Criminal Law

2016/17 Annual Report

The 2016/17 financial year was once again a very busy year for the members of the Criminal Law Committee.

The Committee is well balanced with prosecutors, defence, the Western Australian Bar Association and sole practitioners but still lacks a voice from the Aboriginal Legal Service. A representative from the Aboriginal Legal Service would be a welcome addition to the Committee membership.

The Committee continues to monitor the mandatory sentencing provisions under the recently amended burglary offences of the Criminal Code for unjust outcomes for offenders. Furthermore, the mandatory sentencing provisions for reckless driving under the Road Traffic Act are also being monitored for similar purposes. The Law Society remains committed to its opposition to mandatory sentencing.

The Committee has continued to liaise with the Department of Corrective Services regarding issues within the prison environment and its non-workability for lawyers dealing with clients who are incarcerated. The Law Society has recently written to the Minister on these issues and the change of Government will hopefully bring a positive outcome to this matter. The problems that legal practitioners experience using the prisons to see clients on a daily basis has not improved, especially in the women’s prison. The Convenor has been active in moving this agenda along.

The Committee has also been busy contributing to a number of Bills relating to criminal law and procedure over the past 12 months, and was recently consulted in relation to the statutory review of the Criminal Investigation Act 2006. The Committee also provided a submission to the Law Society’s Council for the Law Council of Australia on the Terms of Reference for the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Inquiry into the Incarceration Rate of Indigenous Australians.

The Committee maintains liaison with other relevant committees: Mara Barone is a member of the Stirling Gardens Magistrates Court Committee and Sam Vandongen SC is on the Supreme Court Chief Justice Disclosure Sub-Committee. The Committee has also contributed to the Aboriginal Incarceration and Justice Reinvestment Working Group and monitors the Disability Justice Centre through Karen Farley SC.

The Committee has been supportive of the Law Society finding ways to reduce time delays in the District and Supreme Courts with the ever-decreasing budgets but with greater workloads.

For more information about this committee please email General Manager, Advocacy – Mary Woodford, advocacy@lawsocietywa.asn.au