Simplification of jury directions project: a report to the Jury Directions Advisory Group August 2012

Courts Conflict of laws Australia Victoria

Jury directions are extremely complex and sometimes unintelligible, argues this report, which recommends ways to simplify and reform the jury direction process in Victoria.

This report considers in detail a number of areas of law which currently give rise to jury directions which are extremely complex, and often described as unintelligible. Four areas have been chosen for close analysis. These are:

  • (a) complicity;
  • (b) inferences and circumstantial evidence;
  • (c) evidence of other misconduct – tendency and coincidence; and
  • (d) jury warnings – unreliable evidence.

The report builds upon recent work carried out in both this country and overseas upon jury directions by the Victorian Law Reform Commission and other law reform bodies. That work has concluded that jury directions are, by and large, unduly complex and in need of reform. The recommendations contained in the Report are designed to address the issues identified by those bodies and to reduce the undue complexity and length of jury directions currently given in this State.

The report considers the approaches taken to jury directions in other jurisdictions in Australia and overseas. It highlights practices and parts of model charges in those jurisdictions which, if used as a model for reform in this State, might reduce the complexity and length of jury directions.

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