find the latest legal job
Insurance Lawyer (3-5 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Dynamic organisation ·
View details
Legal Counsel
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: North Sydney NSW 2060
· 18 month fixed term contract · 3-5 years PQE with TMT exposure
View details
Solicitor - Insurance and Health
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Newcastle NSW 2300
· Dynamic organisation · Outstanding career opportunity
View details
Solicitors Barrister and Registered Migration Agents
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: North Sydney NSW 2060
· We are an established multi-disciplinary practice located in North Sydney. ·
View details
Commercial/Projects Lawyer (4+ PAE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Fantastic, supportive working environment · Wide variety of work, direct client contact
View details
Judges to draw on new guide for family and domestic violence

Judges to draw on new guide for family and domestic violence

A new online bench book will inform the way judges handle matters involving family and domestic violence.

The National Domestic and Family Violence Bench Book aims to guide the profession on best practice in dealing with family and domestic violence matters.

The project coordinator for the development of the bench book, Professor Heather Douglas, said she hoped the resource would improve consistency in the handling of domestic and family violence cases throughout Australia’s criminal and civil jurisdictions.

According to Professor Douglas, getting the courts to adopt a common national approach to dealing with such matters has been a challenge due to varied legislative definitions of family violence throughout Australia.

“We recognise that there are different definitions. So everything that we say in the bench book can only be applied if it conforms with the law in the particular state,” Professor Douglas said.

“Working with magistrates, we’ve tried to provide a list of suggestions for things that need to be considered in relation to breaches or contraventions of protection or domestic violence orders […] There is a consistent jurisprudence around those kinds of ideas, so it is just [a matter of] reminding magistrates to think about those things,” she said.

Professor Douglas, from the University of Queenland’s TC Beirne School of Law, has led the development of the first component of the online bench book.

The Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department approved a grant for the development of the bench book in 2014, acting on the recommendation of a report published by the Australian Law Reform Commission and NSW Law Reform Commission in 2010.

The bench book was designed to assist the court with decision-making and the writing of judgments, bringing together common features of state and territory laws as they relate to domestic and family violence. Its online portal includes a range of resources for decision-makers to draw on, including risk assessment tools and a nation-wide case database.

“The bench book points to a range of risk factors that are consistently recognised as factors which increase the risk of serious harm or homicide to a victim – things like a history of strangulation or stalking, or issues around step-children living in the family, tend to be risk factors.

“We’ve introduced many of those into the bench book for magistrates to go through,” Professor Douglas said.

“We have also tried to identify all those cases that relate to family and domestic violence in each state and territory. That gives some really good ideas to judges who are thinking about sentencing and the language that’s used in judgments and how they might describe family violence in their judgments,” she said.

The legal academic is currently overseeing the development of the second part of the bench book, expected to be launched in mid-2017.

“The resource is really aimed at providing a central source of information primarily for magistrates, but more broadly judges and other judicial officers dealing with cases involving domestic and family violence,” she said.

Attorney-General George Brandis QC welcomed the initial release of the bench book last month and lauded the “comprehensive guidance” the materials provided.

The project is an ongoing collaboration between the TC Beirne School of Law and the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Community Legal Centres NSW has welcomed the Australian Law Reform Commission
Jul 28 2017
CLCs welcome Indigenous incarceration inquiry
Community Legal Centres NSW has welcomed the Australian Law Reform Commission’s inquiry into the r...
Jul 27 2017
Legal body commends funding for independent crime stats
The Queensland Law Society has applauded the state government’s commitment to fund a new independe...
Jul 27 2017
Virtual marketplace to bolster lawyers’ skills
An industry-first online symposium and virtual marketplace has issued a call to action to legal prof...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...