Mandatory pre-trial disclosure has been introduced into Division 3 of Part 3 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986, which now requires mandatory pre-trial disclosure for both the prosecution and the accused. The provisions are set out at ss 142 – 144 of the Act.
These provisions only apply after an indictment has been presented or filed in proceedings: s 141. As this only occurs after the matter is transferred from the Local Court to the District or
Supreme courts, mandatory pre-trial disclosure does not apply to summary matters, or to indictable matters which proceed summarily – that is, matters that remain in the Local Court.
If the matter is committed to a higher court on the basis of a plea of not guilty, the mandatory pre-trial disclosure provisions will need to be considered and complied with. The accused’s obligation is to provide:
(a) the name of any Australian legal practitioner proposed to appear on behalf of the accused person at the trial,
(b) the nature of the accused person’s defence, including particular defences to be relied on,
(c) the facts, matters or circumstances on which the prosecution intends to rely to prove guilt (as indicated in the prosecution’s notice under section 142) and with which the accused person intends to take issue,
(d) points of law which the accused person intends to raise,
(e) notice of any consent that the accused person proposes to give at the trial under section 190 of the Evidence Act 1995 in relation to each of the following:
(i) a statement of a witness that the prosecutor proposes to adduce at the trial,
(ii) a summary of evidence that the prosecutor proposes to adduce at the trial,
(f) a statement as to whether or not the accused person intends to give any notice under section 150 (Notice of alibi) or, if the accused person has already given such a notice, a statement that the notice has been given,
(g) a statement as to whether or not the accused person intends to give any notice under section 151 (Notice of intention to adduce evidence of substantial mental impairment),
(h) if any expert witness is proposed to be called at the trial by the accused person, a copy of each report by that witness that is relevant to the case and on which the accused person intends to rely,
(i) notice as to whether the accused person proposes to raise any issue with respect to the continuity of custody of any proposed exhibit disclosed by the prosecutor,
(j) notice of any significant issue that the accused person proposes to raise regarding the form of the indictment, severability of the charges or separate trials for the charges,
(k) if the prosecutor disclosed an intention to adduce at the trial any audio or visual recording or the transcript of any audio or visual recording:
(i) any request that the accused person has that the recording or transcript be edited (other than in circumstances to which subsection (2) (d) relates), and
(ii) particulars sufficient to clearly identify the edits that the accused person requests.
As pre-trial disclosure relates only to trial matters in the superior courts, it is substantively outside of the scope of the By Lawyers Criminal Local Court guide. However because the provisions may be relevant to the overall strategic approach for a successful defence of indictable charges, a note has been added to the commentary alerting practitioners to these requirements.