Which Groups/Individuals Had Their Rights Infringed?
1 The individual or group that had their rights infringed—who were they?
Olaf Dietrich had his rights infringed.
2 Which right(s) was infringed? How was the right(s) infringed?
Olaf Dietrich was accused of a number of drug-related offences. He was unable to afford legal representation and was made to go to trial without counsel. Dietrich had applied to the Legal Aid Commission of Victoria, who rejected his claim on the grounds that he was not willing to plead guilty to the charges. He felt this went against his rights and appealed his case to the High Court of Australia.
3 What role did the individual or group play in taking …show more content…
What point of view did the group/individual have on these issues?
At the time he has didn’t access legal representation.
6 What laws existed at the time of this case? How did they impact on the individual/group? That is, what specific laws affected the group/individual and compelled them to start legal action?
At the time it didn’t matter whether he had legal representation or not.
7 Which groups/individuals had opposing views on the issues in this case? What were these views?
For many, the decision outlined in Dietrich was seen as a gain for indigent accused people, the decision recognizing the significance of an accused having legal representation. Many saw the decision as recognising Australia’s human rights responsibilities under such UN conventions as the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.
Others, however, were not so approving of the decision. Concerns were raised as to the effect that this might have on available funds to legal aid bodies in general. Would the decision mean that funds would be diverted to criminal matters at the expense of family law and civil law matters? Some were concerned that the legal system would become clogged with defendants pleading not guilty rather than guilty, as was the previous requirement for receiving legal …show more content…
These amendments gave the courts power to direct Legal Aid Victoria to provide legal assistance to an indigent accused if the court was satisfied that failing to do so would lead to an unfair trial.
Other states around Australia have also altered their practices following this decision. For example, in Western Australia, the state government will make funds available to an accused who has successfully made a ‘Dietrich application’.
Dietrich v. R (1996): a summary
The case of Dietrich v. R asked the High Court to consider:
● whether Australians had the right to a fair trial
● whether an accused person has a right to publicly funded legal representation.
Olaf Dietrich was accused of a number of drug-related offences. He was unable to afford legal representation and was made to go to trial without counsel. He felt this went against his rights and appealed his case to the High Court of Australia. The following was the result of his test case.
● Australians have the right to not have an unfair trial.
● There is no right to have counsel provided at public expense.
● Failing to adjourn or stay a case when a person is unrepresented may lead to an unfair