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PREVIOUS to the passage of the Justices Act the principal statutes in force in Queensland relating to the powers and authorities of Justices of the Peace were those known as Jervis's Acts''-11 and 12 Vic. c. 42, 11 and 12 Vic. c. 43, and 11 and 12 Vic. c. 41--together with the statute of New South Wales (14 Vic. No. 43) which adopted them, and the subsequent amendments of it (17 Vic. No. 39 and 37 Vic. No. 4). Some years ago Sir James Cockle, the late learned Chief Justice of Queensland, was induced before his departure from the Colony to undertake the task of consolidating and simplifying the language of these Acts, and under his direction a series of Bills was drawn for that purpose, each dealing with a separate branch of the law relating to Justices. The present Act is founded upon his work, but includes many important alterations in the law not contemplated by him. The framers of the Act have considered it more convenient to embody the whole law in one statute, and have adopted the more modern form in which Acts of Parliament are now drawn. After many revisions the Bill was first brought into the Legislative Council in September, 1885, and was most favourably received. It passed its various stages with no material alterations and was transmitted to the Legislative Assembly, but owing to the pressure of business and the lateness of the session did not then become law. During the recess it was again carefully revised and underwent some slight modifications in form. It was presented to the Assembly on the 15th of July, 1886, and having passed both Houses was assented to on the 13th of October.
Although the Act may fairly be considered more simple than Jervis's Acts, so that it may be expected that Justices will have no
difficulty in its interpretation, still it is hoped that the following
be of use to those who are called upon to administer its
The Justices Act is divided into ten Parts. Part I. is preliminary.
The offences cognizable by Justices are of three kinds-indictable
supplements the provisions of Part III., and ensures generally the
Part I. provides for the repeal of the statutes specified in the
The interpretation clause (s. 4) contains, in accordance with
and “Breach of Duty," special attention should be given, because the arrangement of the Act is, to some extent, based upon them. They are as follows:
“Indictable Offence"-An offence which may be prosecuted
before the Supreme Court, or other Court having jurisdic-
Attorney-General or other authorised officer.
on summary conviction before Justices, by fine, imprison
ment, or otherwise. “ Breach of Duty”-Any act or omission (not being a simple
offence or a non-payment of a mere debt) upon complaint
for the payment of money, or for doing, or refraining from doing,
any other act. The use of the two latter definitions—which correspond substantially with the terms délit and contravention used in French law-was suggested by Sir James Cockle, although the terms used by him were somewhat different.
If we except the jurisdiction in cases of surety of the peace and for good behaviour, the provisions respecting which are preventive rather than remedial, then every offence with which Justices may deal is included in one of these three classes. The value of the definitions will be at once apparent upon a perusal of the Act.
PART II.–JUSTICES. Justices may be appointed by General Commission of the Peace under the Great Seal, or specially by the Governor in Council (s. 6). Members of the Executive Council, and Judges of the Supreme Court and District Court (s. 10) are Justices ex officio, as are also Chairmen, for the time being, of Municipal Districts (s. 8), but only for their districts.
Justices may be Justices for the whole Colony, or may have a jurisdiction limited to a specified district, outside which they must be careful not to act, except in a few cases referred to below. Up to the present time, however, no limited Commission has been issued, and the Justices of limited jurisdiction have been only the chairmen of muni. cipal districts acting as Justices by virtue of their office.