Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP)

Statutory Function Statistics

Statutory Function Statistics

No Bill Applications

After a defendant has been committed for trial, the question sometimes arises whether the prosecution should continue. This can arise either as a result of an application by the defendant or on our own initiative. A submission made to the Director to discontinue such a matter is known as a ‘no Bill’ application.

The Director’s power to discontinue is delegated to the CDPP Practice Group Leaders and branch heads who make these decisions in certain circumstances. This power was exercised by the Director’s delegates in relation to a number of prosecutions during the year.

In the past year there were 18 ‘no Bill’ applications received from defendants or their representatives decided by the Director or the Practice Group Leaders. Of these, seven were granted and 11 were refused. A further 19 prosecutions were discontinued on the basis of a recommendation from a prosecutor without prior representations from the defendant. A total of 26 prosecutions were discontinued, following decisions by the Director in three matters and by the Practice Group Leaders in 23 matters.

Of the 26 prosecutions discontinued, in 17 the primary reason for discontinuing was because there was insufficient evidence.

Three were discontinued because the public interest did not warrant the continuation of the prosecution. In the remaining six, the reason for discontinuing the prosecution was both the insufficiency of evidence and the public interest.

Nine of the 26 involved fraud offences, 12 involved drugs offences, three involved people smuggling offences and two involved other types of offences.

 Indemnities

The Director of Public Prosecutions Act 1983 (the DPP Act) empowers the Director to give an undertaking—referred to as an indemnity—to a potential witness in three circumstances:

  • section 9(6) authorises the Director to give an indemnity to a potential witness in Commonwealth proceedings that any evidence the person may give, and anything derived from that evidence, will not be used in evidence against the person, other than in proceedings for perjury
  • section 9(6D) empowers the Director to give an indemnity to a person that he or she will not be prosecuted under Commonwealth law in respect of a specified offence or specified conduct
  • section 9(6B) empowers the Director to give an indemnity to a person that any evidence he or she may give in proceedings under state or territory law will not be used in evidence against them in a Commonwealth matter.

 

In the past year, we provided 28 indemnities under sections 9(6) and 9(6D). We gave no indemnities under section 9(6B). Ten witnesses were indemnified in drug prosecutions, three in prosecutions for fraud, five in prosecutions for money laundering and 10 in relation to other matters.

Taking Matters Over – Private Prosecutions

Traditionally it has been open to any person to bring a private prosecution for a criminal offence. That right is protected in Commonwealth matters by section 13 of the Crimes Act 1914 and is expressly preserved under section 10(2) of the DPP Act.

Under section 9(5) of the DPP Act, the Director has the power to take over a prosecution for a Commonwealth offence that has been instituted by another person. The Director is empowered to either carry on the prosecution or, if appropriate, to discontinue it.

The Director exercised this power in 2014–15 in relation to two people who had commenced the prosecution of seven defendants. All matters were discontinued.

‘Ex Officio’ Indictments

The Director has powers under section 6(2A)–(2D) of the DPP Act to institute prosecutions on indictment referred to as ex officio indictments. These powers are used in circumstances where a defendant consents to a prosecution on indictment without being examined or committed for trial or a defendant stands trial on different charges from those on which he or she was committed, whether under Commonwealth, state or territory law. Section 6(2D) of the DPP Act provides that in any other case where the Director considers it appropriate to do so, the Director may institute a prosecution of a person on indictment for an indictable offence against the laws of the Commonwealth in respect of which the person has not been examined or committed for trial.

In 2014–15 the Director exercised his ex officio powers on nine occasions. In certain circumstances the decision to present an ex officio indictment is delegated to Practice Group Leaders and branch heads. The Director’s delegates exercised these powers in relation to a number of prosecutions during the year.

Consent to Conspiracy Proceedings

The Director’s consent is required before proceedings for Commonwealth conspiracy offences can be commenced. In 2014–15 the Director consented to the commencement of conspiracy proceedings against 59 defendants in relation to 20 alleged conspiracies. Fifteen of the alleged conspiracies related to drugs offences, four of the alleged conspiracies related to fraud offences, and one alleged conspiracy related to another offence.