The South Australian Government's decision to deny a defendant their costs, having successfully defended a police prosecution, is "outrageous", says the Law Society of South Australia.
"Introducing such a proposal through the budget process without consultation with the legal profession is outrageous," said Law Society president Ralph Bönig. To deny a successful party their costs goes against all ordinary principles of justice."
Under current laws, a magistrate has the discretion to award costs in favour of a successful party, resulting in an estimated $2.8 million being awarded this financial year.
According to the Law Society, the net effect of the bill will be to potentially deny parties the ability to defend police prosecutions and therefore to deny justice at the bottom end of the scale.
"If $2.8 million is the difference between South Australia Police and the government in this state being able to manage its affairs, then this state is certainly on the brink of financial disaster," said Bönig. "To seek to legislate away a successful party's rights through the budget process is legislation through the 'back door'."