Adjournments and timely decision making

Australia

  • This report prepared for the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence contains data from family violence matters arising out of a study conducted in various Magistrates’ Courts in Victoria. Gelb notes that while the most common outcome in intervention order proceedings is that the court issues an intervention order, many adjournments are still made. Adjournments are often made to synchronise the civil matter with an associated criminal matter or, ‘to allow police to undertake further discussions with the affected family member, to find out about related custody matters, or to provide more information on the precise circumstances of the incident’ (p 40). Gelb notes that, ‘The use of adjournments for either purpose may be problematic, both for the court (in terms of requiring additional court resources when matters are relisted) and for the parties (especially the affected family member, who must return to court time and again)’ (p 40).

  • King, Michael and Becky Batagol, ‘Enforcer, manager or leader? The judicial role in family violence courts’, (2010) 33 International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 406.

    The authors note that judicial supervision of offenders is an important component of many family violence courts. Skepticism concerning the ability of offenders to reform and a desire to protect victims has led some judges to use supervision as a form of deterrence. Supervision is also used to hold offenders accountable for following court orders. Some family violence courts apply processes used in drug courts, such as rewards and sanctions, to promote offender rehabilitation. This article suggests that while protection and support of victims should be the prime concern of family violence courts, a form of judging that engages offenders in the development and implementation of solutions for their problems and supports their implementation is more likely to promote their positive behavioural change than other approaches to judicial supervision. The approach to judging proposed in this article draws from therapeutic jurisprudence, feminist theory, transformational leadership and solution-focused brief therapy principles.

  • Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland, Not Now, Not Ever: Putting an End to Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland (2015).

    The report notes that where an application for a protection order indicates that an interpreter is required, ‘a Magistrate will assess whether or not an arrangement should be made for the first court mention. Where the matter is brought to the attention of the court at the first mention, an adjournment will likely be necessary to obtain the services of an interpreter. This potentially creates a gap in protection for victims of domestic and family violence’ (p 295).

  • Delays are discussed at p 124. It is noted that often, there are legitimate reasons for delays caused by respondents to protection order applications – ‘Delays can be caused by the perpetrators lawful assertion of procedural rights; for example, it is not uncommon for the respondent to seek ‘further and better particulars’ about the application and to be given the opportunity to consider those particulars. There may need to be an adjournment to allow the applicant to respond to that request’ (p 124).

    However, sometimes respondents abuse processes and cause delays without legitimate reasons. For example, perpetrators could make a cross-application without legitimate reasons (p 124). Other tactics include failing to appear at hearings, evading service of orders and seeking adjournments at short notice. These tactics – ‘are part of the violence perpetrated against the victim and are calculated to terrorise, disempower, humiliate and undermine the victim’s attempts to protect herself (or himself) and other family members’ (p 125). Furthermore, delays associated with parallel criminal proceedings are discussed from pp 126-127.