Compensation for wrongful conviction

Compensation Justice Criminal law Australia
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This paper examines the causes of wrongful imprisonment, the nature of losses and the applicability of international approaches and conventions. Definitions of wrongful conviction vary internationally, as do the circumstances and amount of compensation. Australian states and territories can make discretionary ex gratia payments, although determination of compensation amounts is unclear. Compensation levels for wrongful conviction in Australia are not as generous as tortious claims. The current system of ex gratia payments that exists in all Australian jurisdictions (other than the Australian Capital Territory) is arbitrary. The introduction of dedicated legislation or specific guidelines for wrongful conviction would help bring these Australian jurisdictions into line with international human rights best practice. This paper considers the scope of claims made in Australia through some key case studies. However, there is currently no reliable national data on the prevalence of wrongful convictions in Australia; overseas research suggests wrongful convictions may be less rare than we assume.

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