VCE case studies

These documents are from real proceedings, however the names of the parties have been changed to protect their identity.

The 18 cases are from the Criminal and Common Law Divisions and were heard by a judge after 1 January 2014.

The material includes the Judge’s decision and orders as well as other relevant documents that provide background and context, such as the Summary of Prosecution Opening and submissions. Some documents have been redacted, which means parts of the text have been deleted or hidden. This is done to protect sensitive information, such as the names of victims of crime.

Criminal cases

Summary of prosecution opening

This is the prosecution’s summary of facts and circumstances of the crime. When the offender has pleaded guilty, this summary is agreed to by the defence. The summary will also include information about applicable penalties.

The opening may include the prosecutor’s opinion on the appropriate sentence, but the defence may not necessarily agree.

Defence submissions

When the offender has pleaded guilty, the defence submissions are the defence’s arguments on how the offender ought to be sentenced.

The defence typically argues for the least punishing sentence available. In doing so, it will highlight the offender’s background and personal circumstances, and make other arguments as to why the offender should receive a less punishing sentence.

These matters are often referred to as matters in mitigation of penalty.


This is the punishment the Court is imposing. The sentence may involve imprisoning the offender, but not always. The Judge may decide the offender should undertake community work, rehabilitation programs, pay a fine or pay compensation.

The Judge could decide the offender’s sentence contains a combination of these penalties, depending on what the offences are, as well as the offender’s personal circumstances.

Final Order

This is the final direction issued by the Court. It contains the sentence and any actions the offender is required to fulfil (such as reporting to the Community Corrections Centre).

Common Law cases

Writ and statement of claim

These are the first two documents filed at court in a civil (common law or commercial) case. They are filed by the plaintiff.

The writ is a notice to the defendant that a case is being filed against them and tells them what steps they need to take if they want to defend the case.

The statement of claim sets out what the plaintiff’s claim against the defendant is. It is known as a ‘pleading’, because it ‘pleads’ (presents and argues for) the plaintiff’s position.


This is a document filed by the defendant. It responds to the plaintiff’s statement of claim and sets out what the defendant’s case is. The defence is also a ‘pleading’ because it presents and argues for the defendant’s position.

Amended pleadings

When one of the parties wants to change part of their case, they have to edit their pleading to show what those changes are. This is called an ‘amended pleading’.

For example, if the plaintiff wants to change part of their case, they have to tell the defendant what that change is, so the plaintiff amends (edits or changes) their statement of claim (pleading).

If a defendant wants to change their response to a statement of claim, they can amend (edit or change) the defence (pleading).

Notice of contribution

Sometimes, a plaintiff claims a sum of money from a defendant, and the defendant believes another party should pay some of that money.

The defendant then gives that party a notice of contribution. This tells the party that if the Court orders the defendant to pay the plaintiff, the defendant is going to claim a contribution from the party.


This is a direction issued by the Court or a judge requiring a person to do or not do something.


This is a final decision. In a written judgment, the Judge sets out his or her understanding of the facts of the case, the evidence and his or her decision on the outcome.

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Page last updated: 16 September 2018