ALA critical at second attempt to erode rights by SA government

18th Jun 2012

“The attempt by the South Australian Labour Government to again erode the right to be awarded costs in claims in prosecutions, which fail in summary hearings, shows disregard for the parliamentary process,” Australian Lawyers Alliance South Australian President, Tony Kerin, said.

“Last year a Bill to the same effect was soundly defeated in the Upper House and rightly so, but now the government is trying it on again,” Mr Kerin said.

He said the right to be awarded costs in such a matter had been a longstanding principle, allied with the right to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence.

“Holding those who charge citizens accountable if they fail is an appropriate principle of justice,” Mr Kerin said.

“It is a very serious matter to charge someone with a criminal offence and for summary matters and it is appropriate to be awarded costs in those circumstances,” he said.

Mr Kerin said the Weatherill Government intended to increase the jurisdiction of magistrate courts to hear more serious criminal matters and this would mean a successful defendant would be denied their costs if this provision was allowed to be passed.

ALA was also critical of the Government incorporating such a move as a budgetary measure when it was really something that should have stood alone as it represented an attack upon the rights of citizens of South Australia.

“It is to be hoped that the Liberal Opposition and the Independents once again join forces to defeat this further attempt that comes within 12 months of the Labour Government’s last effort to try to bring in a measure that has already been soundly rejected. Nothing has changed”.

Tags: South Australia Access to justice Criminal justice