Magistrates' Court Bench Book

Speaking of bench books, I predicted last year that a Victorian Magistrates’ Court Bench Book (probably available in electronic form from the JCV) was just around the corner.

It’s sorely needed. Any expectation that judicial officers sitting in the summary jurisdiction can have knowledge of the many orders, applications and actions that the Magistrates’ Court deals with ready to go at a moment’s notice is unrealistic.

The UK’s Magistrates’ Court Bench Book is one way of consolidating some frequently required material. The NSW Judicial Commission have recently released their version to the public. A particularly helpful feature for all practitioners there is the Specific Penalties and Orders area where the penalties for the most common offences dealt with in the Local Court (there are hundreds of them) are laid out in tables.

Chief Magistrate Ian Gray gave his support to providing material that increases consistency between magistrates, including a Bench Book, last year. The idea hasn’t been mentioned recently but its time has surely come.

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