Welcome to the Criminal Procedure Act 2009

The Criminal Procedure Act 2009 has been in operation for a few years now. While there continues to be interpretation and amendment of its provisions, the transition from the old legislation to the new has successfully been made, and a blog exclusively dedicated to the Act is no longer necessary.

If you're looking for a frequently updated blog on general legal matters in Victoria, have a look at Quis Custodes Ipsos Custodes? by the same authors.


331. Power to adjourn proceeding

331. Power to adjourn proceeding

(1) A court may adjourn the hearing of a criminal proceeding before the court—

(a) to any time and place; and

(b) for any purpose; and

(c) on any terms as to costs or otherwise—

that it considers appropriate.

(2) If at any time a court adjourns the hearing of a criminal proceeding, the court may—

(a) allow the accused to go at large; or

(b) remand the accused in custody; or

(c) grant the accused bail or extend his or her bail.


See section 333 of this Act and section 5A of the Bail Act 1977 where accused is undergoing a sentence of detention in a youth justice centre.

(3) If a court has adjourned the hearing of a criminal proceeding to a particular time, it may order that the hearing be held or resumed before that time.

(4) A court may only make an order under subsection (3)—

(a) with the consent of all the parties; or

(b) on the application of a party who has given reasonable notice of the application to the other parties.

(5) If a court adjourns a criminal proceeding in which a jury has been sworn, whether or not the accused is present, the court may discharge the jury from giving a verdict and order a new trial.

(6) If a court has adjourned the hearing of a criminal proceeding to a particular time and has remanded the accused in custody, the court may order that the accused be brought at any time before then—

(a) before the court; or

(b) to another place specified in the order where facilities exist to enable the accused to appear before the court by audio visual link (within the meaning of Part IIA of the Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958)—

in order that the hearing may be held or continued.

(7) The officer in charge of the prison or youth justice centre or other officer who has custody of the accused must obey an order under subsection (6).

The Best Practice Guide was released after the enactment of the Criminal Procedure Act.

[It] was commissioned by the Summary Procedure Steering Group which oversees the implementation and roll out of the changes. It aims to promote common understanding of the legislative framework and provide best practice advice. It is important for criminal law practitioners to appreciate the impact that the changes may have on their practice.

It's hardly comprehensive, but offers the most detail so far of what the powers-that-be have in mind for the summary process. One of the key points seems to be an expectation that the Magistrates' Court will refuse many adjournment applications which would previously have been granted as a matter of course (at page 7):

The Good Adjournment

In Notice to Appear cases a spare copy of the preliminary brief will be available at court on the return date. Therefore, a case can no longer be adjourned because the accused or their legal practitioner does not have a copy of the brief.

It also means that where a summary case conference could not be conducted before court, it can now be conducted at court on the return date. The idea that an accused is entitled to a couple of initial adjournments without question will be a thing of the past. The accused will no longer automatically obtain an adjournment at the counter.

Generally, adjournments should only occur to advance the progress of the case. Good adjournments will be for:

• a plea hearing

• to obtain further disclosure

• to obtain the full brief

• contest mention

• contested hearing.

The Magistrates' Court of Victoria Listing Protocols (updated in January) don't offer much more explanation of this, although they do seem to suggest that adjournments may be shorter than previously granted:

Listing Timeframes

The Court aims to list criminal cases in accordance with the following timeframes:

* Return Date to further mention hearing: 2-4 weeks

* Return Date/second mention hearing to plea: 2-4 weeks

* Return Date to contest mention hearing: 4-8 weeks

* Return Date to hearing (less than 1 Day with Case Conference, if appropriate) but no contest mention: 6-10 weeks

* From contest mention hearing to hearing: 10-14 weeks

The above timeframes do not apply to cases involving persons in custody.

Note: Return Date is the first date on which the proceeding is listed before the Court Proceedings may be adjourned at the discretion of the court. There is no right to an "automatic" adjournment on the first return of a case. One of the case management objectives of the court is to reduce delay.

None of these guidelines are referred to by the Act. How strictly they will be adhered to remains to be seen. It seems likely that, until funding issues for counsel are resolved, the new procedures may prove difficult to comply with.


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