Unrepresented accused in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria

Dr Natalia Antolak-Saper, Professor Jonathon Clough, Professor Bronwyn Naylor2021

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This report has been researched and written under the auspices of the AIJA by Dr Natalia Antolak-Saper (Monash University), Professor Jonathan Clough (Monash University), and Professor Bronwyn Naylor (RMIT University).

In recent years, an increased level of academic interest in unrepresented proceedings has been driven by a perception that an increasing number of people are appearing without representation. However, much of this work focuses on self-represented litigants in civil proceedings, with minimal attention given to criminal matters. This report fills this gap by studying the experience of unrepresented accused in summary matters through a case study of their interactions with the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria.

Through a combination of quantitative data analysis, qualitative interviews and literature research, the authors provide a detailed insight into appearances by unrepresented accused in the busiest court in Victoria, the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria. This process included the observation of hearings in 757 criminal matters and interviews with 11% of the magistrates in Victoria.