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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (9 May) . . Page.. 1503 ..

Model litigant rules

(Question No 153)

Ms Dundas asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 7 May 2002.

In relation to model litigant rules:

(1) Does the ACT have model litigant rules similar to the Commonwealth.

(2) If not, does the Government intend to introduce model litigant rules.

(3) If so, what are those rules.

(4) What checks and balances exist to determine whether prosecutions by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) are merit worthy.

Mr Stanhope: The answer to the member's question is as follows:

(1) There are currently no formal model litigant rules or guidelines for the conduct of ACT Government legal proceedings. However, the ACT Government Solicitor and its staff are well aware of the principle of the Government acting as model litigant.

(2) I have instructed the Department of Justice and Community Safety to prepare draft model litigant guidelines which will apply to the conduct of legal proceedings on behalf of the Territory and its agencies. Those guidelines will be similar, although not identical, to the model litigant rules adopted by the Commonwealth.

(3) Not applicable.

(4) The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is an independent statutory office holder. It is for the DPP to weigh up the evidence in each matter to determine merit worthiness. As an independent office holder the DPP is entitled to determine each matter free from interference from government or any other person or advisory body. The checks and balances on the DPP are twofold. First, the DPP is not compelled to prosecute every person who has been accused of a criminal offence. The DPP carefully weighs up the evidence available prior to making a decision to prosecute. Secondly, the court, whether it be a magistrate, judge or jury, ultimately determines the guilt or innocence of a person prosecuted for an offence. If the DPP's decision to prosecute is not merit worthy, the court would be expected to find that there is no case to answer following a committal hearing, or return a "not guilty" verdict following a trial.

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