- The Bail Amendment Act 2014 sets out further changes to the law in relation to bail in NSW. It was assented to on 25 September 2014 and statements made by the Attorney-General seem to indicate it will commence on 28 January this year.
- It follows the substantial changes of May 2014 that, in essence, provided for completely new criteria to be satisfied before bail would be granted.
- The new amendments are to some extent similar to the law prior to May 2014 and hence make it more difficult for an accused person to obtain bail.
- One of the major changes is the removal of the consideration of the presumption of innocence by a bail authority. The conduct of the accused after the offence, and the views of the victims, may now also be part of a bail determination.
The Bail Amendment Act 2014 sets out further changes to the law in relation to bail in NSW. It was assented to on 25 September 2014 and recent comments by the Attorney-General in the media seem to indicate that the commencement date will be 28 January 2015.
A brief background
I say “further changes” because, of course, substantial changes were made last year, i.e. commencing from 20 May 2014, which in essence provided for completely new criteria to be satisfied before bail would be granted. The new amendments propose changes which, to some extent, are similar to the law pre-20 May 2014, and hence make it more difficult for an accused person to obtain bail.
Attorney-General Brad Hazzard stated in his second reading speech that the purpose of the bill was to make amendments to the Bail Act 2013 to give effect to the recommendations made by the former Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, in his review of the Act.
Hazzard said: “A number of bail decisions made under the …  Act have caused concerns in the community. These concerns prompted the Government to request the Hatzistergos review. In conducting the review, Mr Hatzistergos consulted with key stakeholders from across the justice system and carefully considered a number of bail decisions made under the …  Act. The review also drew on the work of law reform commissions around Australia in relation to bail”.
In a media release of 17 Oct 2014, the Attorney-General said the changes to the Bail Act will help “safeguard the community and make it harder for serious offenders to get bail”.
The most significant proposed changes are as follows: