Discuss about the Case Study for Magistrate Act.
Magistrate court is guided by the Magistrate Act 1989. It is considered to be the lowest court in the hierarchy of the courts in Australia. The Magistrate court provides independent justice to the people within its jurisdiction according to the rule of natural justice. The justice by the Magistrate court is easily accessible by the people within the jurisdiction of the magistrate Court. Being the lowest court in the hierarchy, Magistrate court is the busiest court. Maximum cases start in this court. Magistrate court has the power to transfer the cases to the higher court in the hierarchy, if the Magistrate court thinks that the matter of the case should be heard by the higher court or the matter of the case is outside the jurisdiction of the Magistrate court. The Magistrate court, if it wants or thinks fit can also settle any case outside the court by the way of Alternative Dispute resolution. The court is headed by the Magistrate who is a civil officer which provide justice by way of equal law to the people coming in for justice.
The Magistrate court has the power and jurisdiction over both the civil and criminal matters. It mainly deals with the tort law, penalties and fine, any kind of traffic offences family matters, any money claims and other criminal matters, (MAGISTRATECOURT, 2016). The Magistrate Court also has the jurisdiction and can execute its power on the matter of the Koori court, Drug Court, Children’s Court of Victoria, etc. Extra-judicial programs like Court Integrated Program, Enforcement Review Program, Aboriginal Program etc., are also held by the Magistrate Court.
Section 25 and section 100 of the Magistrate Act, 1989, states about the criminal jurisdiction and civil jurisdiction respectively, (LEGISLATION, 2016). Section 25 states that the Magistrate Court has the power to hear and determine all the summary offences. Section 100 of the Magistrate Act 1989, states about the extent of the civil jurisdiction of the Magistrate court, (AUSTII, 2016). It states that the Magistrate court has the power to hear any civil claim to the extent of $100,000. The purpose of the Magistrate court as stated in section 1 of the Magistrate act 1989 is to have quick access over the cases in order to provide justice and to remove the unnecessary court procedures which take lot of time to hear the case and provide justice.
The layout of the court room is very simple and easily understood. The seat of the Magistrate is raised from the ground and a table has been placed before the Magistrate with a computer on the top of the table. This can be seen in the front of the court room. There is a seat and a table for the clerk on the left side of the Magistrate with a computer in front. There is a witness box with a small bench in the front. A holy Bible is been placed on the table for the purpose of oath taking. A big screen is placed on the back wall of the witness box for the purpose of the video conferencing. This video conferencing is for the purpose for giving evidence by the witnesses if the witnesses are unable to attend the court in person or if it is dangerous for the accused to come to the court. There is a bench before the Magistrate’s where the parties to the case sits. There is also a public gallery where general public can sit provided they follow the court room ethics. Every people present in the court should bow while the Magistrate Enters or exits the court room.
Jurisdiction and Powers of Magistrate Court
A criminal case related to breach of diving license condition in a Magistrate Court is been observed in Ringwood. The issue of the said case is that whether there is a breach of section 50AAD of the Road Safety Act committed by the defendant. The breach here has been done by breaching the condition of the driving license where it has been clearly mentioned about the Alcohol interlock and the defendant was driving a car where there was no fitting of the approved alcohol interlock device. After the case, if the defendant would be held guilty then what would be the liability of the defendant or what penalty he is abound to get.
The fact of the case is that Kandaswamy Ganeshalingam was driving the car in Mulgrave on January 7th 2016. He was stopped by the police while driving. He was asked to show the driving license. As he showed his full Victorian driving license in order to prove his identity, the police came to know that the particular license was subject to Alcohol interlock condition. But the car which was driven by the defendant does not contain any alcohol interlock condition. after questioning, the defendant said that he was driving another car and not the car that was having the alcohol interlock condition, (MAGISTRATESCOURT, 2016).
The prosecution (police) read out the facts of the case and the lawyer of the defendant submitted more facts before the honorable court and provided the court with the reason that why at the time of interception by the police the defendant was not driving the car that was fitted with the alcohol interlock device. The lawyer of the defendant pleaded on behalf of the defendant that the daughter of the defendant was driving the car on the way to Springvale shopping center for the purpose of shopping. The defendant got a phone call from the wife of the defendant at the time when both the father and daughter were busy in shopping. The wife of the defendant told him that she was really very sick and she wants the defendant urgently at home. The medical report was submitted in the court which stated that the wife of the defendant was seriously sick on that day. At the time of the phone call by the wife of the defendant, the defendant’s daughter was very busy in shopping. The defendant could not wait for her daughter to finish her shopping. So the defendant took his daughter car and drove back to his house to see his wife. At the timing he was driving back, the police intercepted him and asked for the license. After that it was known that the license had the alcohol interlock condition and the car which was driven by the defendant was no having any such device. Therefore, the defendant was charged for the breaching of section 50AAD (1) (a) of the Road safety Act1986.
The section 50AAD of the road safety act deals about the offences and immobilization. It has been stated there that any person whose driving license has the condition of alcohol interlock and the person is not acting accordingly is breaching the section. Any person who is driving a motor vehicle having alcohol interlock condition but the alcohol interlock device is not working or disengaged, or is not according to the instructions given by the manufacturers for using the alcohol interlock device also breaches the said section. The person found guilty of the offence of breaching subsection (1) of the section 50AAD is liable to be imposed with fine of 30 penalty units or with imprisonment for not less than 4 months, (LEGISLATION, 2016).
Layout of the Courtroom
The subsection (3) of the section 50AAD, (AUSTII, 2016) of the act is the defence that can be made by the defendant who has been accused of breaching the section 50AAD of the Road safety Act.
As it was found that the license of the defendant was a subject to the alcohol interlock condition, so by driving the car of the daughter of the defendant which was not having any alcohol interlock device, the defendant has breached the law mentioned in the section 50AAD (1) (a) of the Road Safety Act, 1986, which is very clear to the court.
The section 50AAD (3) (b) of the Road Safety Act, 1986 states about the defence which may be taken up by the defendant to escape from the liability for the breach of alcohol interlock condition present in the license of the defendant. But by the set of the facts that has been provided to the court on behalf of the defendant does not fulfill the condition required to satisfy the section 50AAD(3) (a) of the Road safety Act to get free from the liability of breaching the said section. Even the defendant very much knew and has realized that by driving his daughter’s car without alcohol interlock device, he has acted against the condition of his driving license. Therefore, the counsel of the defendant was unable to establish the defence properly.
After finding that the defendant does not have any defence on its part and has clearly breached the section 50AAD (1) (a), the learned counsel for the defendant realized that the defendant is in a position to get imposed with liability for the breach of section 50AAD (1) (a). Hence, instead of submitting any further defence and arguing for the same, the counsel for the defendant started arguing for the liability which was to be imposed on the defendant by the court. The counsel argued to lessen the liability to be imposed on the defendant. The defendant at the time of argument said that the defendant wanted to see his wife as she was sick and needed attention of the defendant and so the defendant drove the car and his daughter was nowhere in the scene as she was busy in shopping. The counsel even stated that the defendant was not financially stable to bear the fine that is to be imposed on him as he is a worker in a factory and does not have enough money and also he does not have any other source of income. Therefore, the defendant will not be able to pay huge fine and if a huge fine is imposed on him then justice will not be given to the defendant.
The Magistrate heard the argument made by the counsel of the defendant and came to the conclusion. The Magistrate was in a view that the defendant should have the knowledge about the risk that was involved while driving the car which was not having alcohol interlock device. The defendant should also have acted with respect to the condition mentioned on his driving license. The Magistrate referred the defendant by saying that the defendant could have been sent to jail for breaching the condition of the driving license. The defendant was also referred by the Magistrate by saying that the defendant should be careful and should not repeat the same act in the future.
The Magistrate gave his judgment by imposing a fine of $750 and $79 should be paid for the court fee. The defendant should pay the fine within 3 months from the date of the judgment. He was also given an option to pay the fine in Dandenong Magistrate Court.
By the argument made by the counsel for the defendant and the judgment made by the court, it can be seen that the court has considered the facts of the case and the seriousness of the circumstances that could have been occurred. As the court has lessen the liability of the defendant, it is clearly understood that the court has considered the emergency of the defendant to dive the car and also that he was not financially strong to bear the fine.
Austii. (2016). Magistrates Act 1989. Retrieved from austii.edu.au: www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/vic/consol_act/mca1989214/notes.html
Austii. (2016). Road safety act 1986. Retrieved from austtii.edu.au: www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/vic/consol_act/rsa1986125/s50.html
Legislation. (2016). Magistrates Act 1989. Retrieved from legislation.vic.gov.au: www.legislation.vic.gov.au/domino/Web_Notes/LDMS/LTObject_Store/... · PDF file
Legislation. (2016). Road Safety Act. Retrieved from legislation.vic.gov.au: www.legislation.vic.gov.au/Domino/Web_Notes/LDMS/LTObject_Store/... · PDF file
Magistratecourt. (2016). Magistrate Court Act 1989. Retrieved from magistratecourt.vic.gov.au: https://www.magistratescourt.vic.gov.au/.../magistrates-court-act-1989
Magistratecourt. (2016). Road Safety Act. Retrieved from magistratescourt.vic.gov.au: https://www.magistratescourt.vic.gov.au/.../road-safety-act-1986