Serious delays in the Victorian Court of Appeal (VCA) are set to be eased by the implementation of major changes to the running of criminal appeals.
Victorian Deputy Premier and Attorney-General Rob Hulls announced today (15 October) that the Brumby Government will provide additional funding to transform the VCA Registry and streamline the hearing of appeals, potentially increasing the number of cases heard each day from one to eight.
"These changes, instigated by the Supreme Court, have the potential of cutting hearing delays in the Court of Appeal by up to 50 per cent," said Hulls.
Hulls added that a new specialist Registrar of Criminal Appeals would be appointed, as well as four criminal lawyers to intensively manage appeals and prepare them for hearing.
The model is based on a case-flow management system used in the English Court of Appeal, and is built around more timely and precise identification of the grounds of appeal.
Other changes will include the preparation of case summaries by VCA staff rather than prosecution staff; encouraging trial counsel, rather than appeal counsel, to advise on the prospects of appeal and to prepare detailed grounds of appeal; more cases where single judges determine whether leave to appeal should be granted; the VCA determining more leave to appeal applications on the papers; and the VCA delivering more judgments orally and directly from the bench.
"The demand on the entire court system has never been greater and has resulted in record numbers of cases reaching the Court of Appeal," said Hulls.
"This groundbreaking approach by the Court will ensure criminal appeals are handled and heard more expeditiously through active case management which means more of the work is done before Judges get involved."
Hulls said the government will also be calling for expressions of interest for two Supreme Court Judicial Registrars, to be assigned to the VCA and the Costs Court.