Sladen Snippet – The Federal Court rules against the use of agreed penalties

On 1 May 2015 a unanimous judgement was handed down by the Full Court of the Federal Court, stating that in deciding the outcome of a case, the court would no longer receive or act upon any agreement as to penalties previously agreed to between parties.

This followed a recent High Court judgement, which held that the regular practice in Victoria of permitting the prosecution to make submissions on the available sentence range or outcome in criminal cases should cease. The High Court held that such submissions by a prosecutor were inadmissible on the basis that they were a statement of opinion not a submission of law.

In civil cases, like criminal cases, it was common for submissions to be made to the Court as to appropriate penalties. The Federal Court judgement suggests that the practice of resolving proceedings on the basis of an agreed penalty or on submissions made to the Court as to the appropriate penalty will no longer be permitted.  The Federal Court’s judgement suggests that parties to a civil proceeding will not necessarily have any clear guidance or certainty as to the penalty likely to be imposed.

If you have any further questions on the judgment, or for further information, please contact:

Leneen Forde
Sladen Legal
03 9611 0142


Annabelle Moylan
Sladen Legal
03 9611 0148