In Legal Affairs

Victoria Attorney-General Robert Clark

Victorian Law Reform Commission To Review Law On Mental Impairment And Culpability

Victor P Taffa

The Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC) has been asked to examine and report on the desirability of changes to the law relating to persons who are not fit to stand trial, or are found not guilty due to mental impairment, Attorney-General Robert Clark announced today.

Mr. Clark has asked the commission to conduct a review of the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997 and report on the desirability of changes to improve its operation.

“The review will seek to ensure that the law that determines a person’s guilt or fitness to be tried, and what happens to persons found not fit or not guilty, operate justly, effectively and consistently with the principles that underlie it.” Mr. Clark said.


“This legislation is important both for the protection of the community and the treatment of those placed under it. It also governs the operation of significant aspects of Victoria’s justice and mental health systems.”

“The legislation was a major reform when it was introduced, modernising and improving the former Governor’s pleasure regime. However, 15 years on from its enactment, it is timely for the legislation to be examined to see whether there are opportunities to improve its operation.”

Mr. Clark said the terms of reference asked the Commission to consider the definition of mental impairment, how the legislation should apply in the Magistrates’ Court, the process for determining fitness to stand trial, how issues should be determined by a jury when a defence of mental impairment is raised, and the operation of the system of supervision and review for persons placed under the Act.

The Commission has been asked to report no later than 31 March 2014.


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