The Hidden Value of Written Facts in the Magistrates Court

The hidden value of providing written submissions to Magistrates during prosecutions has been highlighted in the recent case of Wildan Properties Pty Ltd -v- City of Bunbury [2016] WASC 188.

Her Honour Justice Pritchard made the following observations in her decision:

“ At the sentencing hearing, both counsel for the City of Bunbury (the City) and counsel for Wildan made lengthy oral submissions in relation to the facts relevant to the offences. Counsel for Wildan did not make any formal admission of the facts referred to by counsel for the City. While he did not contradict many of the facts, he expressly disputed some of them.

The learned Magistrate managed to distil the facts relevant to sentencing from the lengthy submissions of counsel. His task was, no doubt, made more difficult because the facts were not reduced to writing, and because of the dispute which had been identified in relation to some of them. It is appropriate to observe that in the case of regulatory prosecutions such as this, the facts relating to the offence, or the legislative regime pertaining to the offence, can be complex. In that event, the expeditious and efficient conduct of sentencing proceedings is likely to be assisted if the facts the prosecution says are relevant to sentencing are reduced to writing and counsel endeavour to confer about those facts in advance of the hearing. That course is especially desirable in relation to prosecutions in the Magistrates Court, where magistrates are required to deal with a very large number of diverse matters each day.”

So this article is a heartfelt thank you to all the officers of our local government clients who regularly approve Kott Gunning’s written statements of material facts.

We know that it can take time to check the written submissions that we are going to provide to the Court on the local government’s behalf. However these comments by Her Hon Justice Pritchard show exactly why we provide written statement of material facts – to make the case for the local government very clear to the Court. Your role in the approval of those submissions is greatly appreciated.

For more information on this paper or any other Local Government matter please contact partner Anne Wood on (08) 9321 3755.

The information published in this paper is of a general nature and should not be construed as legal advice. Whilst we aim to provide timely, relevant and accurate information, the law may change and circumstances may differ. You should not therefore act in reliance on it without first obtaining specific legal advice.