COVID-19 and Magna Carta

R v IB (No 3) [2020] ACTSC 103

How might a 1215 UK statute affect territory COVID-19 laws?7  IB sought a jury trial on sexual offences, but ‘trial by judge alone’ was ordered under those laws.  IB said clause 29 of Magna Carta, always part of ACT law, guaranteed trial by jury – ‘No freeman shall be taken or imprisoned … but by lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.

Murrell CJ said (at [118]) that Magna Carta ‘as an ancient statement on the importance of the rule of law … is entirely consistent with the emergency provisions’.  COVID-19 laws are a ‘necessary but proportionate’ alteration to normal practice8; the justice system ‘must continue’ despite the crisis9.

This principle is from Episode 60 of interpretation NOW!


7 COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2010, s 68BA Supreme Court Act 1933.

8 JKC [2020] WASCA 38 (at [8]), Capic [2020] FCA 486 (at [25]) quoted.

9 UD [2020] ACTSC 90 (at [54]), removal revoked – UD [2020] HCATrans 61.