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Summary case conference

This page explains what might happen at the summary case conference.

What is a summary case conference?

A summary case conference is a discussion between the defence and a prosecutor called a Summary case conference manager (SCCM) This discussion could be conducted in person or by phone, exchange of letters, fax or email.

The purpose of the summary case conference is to manage the progress of the case and to sort out points of disagreement as much as possible without having to involve the court. It may include discussion of matters to identify:

  • issues that are in dispute between the prosecution and the accused
  • steps involved in progressing the case, and
  • information possessed by the prosecution that will help the accused to understand the evidence against them and to provide this information.

See Victoria Police—Summary case conference (opens in a new window)and s. 54—Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

When does a summary case conference occur?

Ideally, a summary case conference should happen before the first mention date. However the conference may take place at court or on that date, or at anytime when directed by the court. In notice to appear matters, the parties must have a summary case conference before:

  • a full brief can be requested, or
  • the case can be adjourned to a contest mention or a contested hearing.

In other matters, the parties can agree to have a summary case conference or a magistrate or registrar can direct them to have one.

Note: Victoria Legal Aid does not pay any additional fee for preparation or appearance at a summary case conference.

See s. 54(2)—Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic)(opens in a new window) and Magistrates' Court—Practice Direction 3 of 2010(opens in a new window).

Where to find SCCMs

There are SCCMs assigned to each court location that has commenced summary case conferencing. Lawyers should contact the SCCM, rather than the informant, to engage in early discussions about the case.

See Victoria police—Police prosecutions contact list(opens in a new window).

Difficulties with disclosure and withdrawal of charges

In the past police prosecutors sought the informant's consent before agreeing to withdraw charges. Although summary case conference managers no longer need the informant's authority to withdraw or amend charges, some SCCMs may not be willing to act without first speaking to the informant. This may delay resolution of cases or lead to unwanted adjournments. If this happens, refer those prosecutors to the Chief Commissioner's Instruction and the relevant parts of the Victoria Police Manual.

See Magistrates' Court—Practice Direction 3 of 2010(opens in a new window) and 4.4—Victoria Police Manual—Briefs of evidence (policy rules)(opens in a new window).

Negotiating with the SCCM

It is usually preferable to engage with the SCCM away from court. Email is probably the most effective way of doing this. The lawyer should set out their position and the evidence to support this. Include a proposal to progress the matter and a reasonable time to get a response. If the SCCM does not respond, follow this up with a further email. Consider copying in the officer in charge of the relevant prosecutions office in this email.

Costs

Think about the issue of costs and whether it is appropriate to raise this.

See s. 401—Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic)(opens in a new window) and s. 131—Magistrates' Court Act 1989 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Self-represented litigant

A magistrate or a registrar may order an accused person to participate in a summary case conference before their matter is heard in court. Before making this order, they must be satisfied that the person has had legal advice in all aspects of their case and that it is appropriate to direct the person to a summary case conference.

Magistrate's power to waive the need for a summary case conference

If a magistrate or registrar is not satisfied that a summary case conference is appropriate due to lack of legal advice, they may waive the requirement to attend at a summary case conference.

See—Magistrates' Court—Practice Direction 3 of 2010(opens in a new window).

Confidentiality of summary case conference discussions

Evidence of anything that is said or done during a summary case conference is not admissible in court. Any document that has been prepared specially for the summary conference will be inadmissible in court.

If all parties agree then something said at the case conference can be admitted into evidence at court.

See s. 55(7)—Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

More information

Legislation

Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic)

  • s. 54—defines a summary case conference
  • s. 54(2)—no contest mention, summary hearing or full brief until after attendance at a summary case conference
  • s. 54(5)—if the accused is not legally represented a magistrate must approve of a summary case conference
  • s. 401—costs in the Magistrates' Court

See Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

See also Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic)—Schedule 1—Charges on a charge sheet or indictment(opens in a new window).

Magistrates' Court Criminal Procedure Rules 2019 (Vic)

  • r. 22—summary case conference
  • r. 24—registrar or judicial registrar may dispense with summary case conference requirement

See Magistrates' Court Criminal Procedure Rules 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Magistrates' Court Act 1989 (Vic)

  • s. 131—costs are to be at the discretion of the court

See Magistrates' Court Act 1989 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Reference

Victoria Police

The Victoria police website has the police charter to show the case conference services they provide and their commitment to the case conference system. The police have also provided a list of summary case conference managers at Melbourne and metropolitan locations.

See:

Victoria Police Manual

The manual has detailed information about police policy and procedure when conducting searches. These links are only available for VLA staff. Send an email if you need copies.

See:

Department of Justice and Community Safety (DJCS)

See 'Summary Case Conference' in DJCS—Criminal Procedure Act 2009—Legislation by chapter(opens in a new window).

Judicial College of Victoria—Victorian Criminal Proceedings Manual

See:

Magistrates' Court of Victoria

A court practice direction gives magistrates the power to waive the obligation to attend a summary case conference.

See Magistrates' Court—Practice Direction 3 of 2010(opens in a new window).

Summary case conference notice

For an example of a summary case conference notice, see Summary case conference notice (pdf, 448 KB)(opens in a new window)

Updated