PROFILE

Gavin Silbert QC was appointed as Acting Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on December 19, 2017.  Mr Silbert was appointed to the position of Victoria's Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP) in 2008 following more than 20 years as a barrister at the Victorian Bar. He completed Law and Arts degrees at the University of Western Australia in 1971 and completed a Master of Laws at the University of London in 1978 and a Bachelor of Civil Law at Wadham College Oxford in 1984.

From 1990 until his appointment as Chief Crown Prosecutor, Mr Silbert worked in private practice with a focus on criminal law and divided his time between acting for the prosecution and the defence.

Between 1985 and 1990, he was a Crown Prosecutor (then named Prosecutor for the Queen for the State of Victoria) and conducted Supreme and County Court trials.

THE ROLE OF DPP

The DPP is the head of Victoria’s public prosecutions service and is responsible for instituting, preparing and conducting serious criminal matters in the High Court, Supreme Court and County Court on behalf of the Crown.

The DPP is an independent statutory appointee appointed by the Governor in Council. The DPP is responsible to the Attorney-General for the performance of functions and use of power. The DPP is independent of government in relation to decisions on the institution, preparation and conduct of criminal proceedings.

Matters prosecuted by the DPP include:

  • murder
  • major sex offences
  • drug trafficking
  • commercial crime and fraud
  • serious assaults
  • aggravated burglaries
  • serious driving offences, such as culpable driving
  • occupational health and safety matters involving death or serious injury
  • corruption involving police or lawyers.

The DPP is responsible for:

  • conducting committal proceedings in the Magistrates' Court
  • prosecuting serious crime in Victoria's County and Supreme Court
  • conducting criminal appeals in the County Court, the Court of Appeal and the High Court.

The DPP can prosecute summary offences in certain circumstances, and also finalise some indictable matters in the Magistrates’ Court.

The DPP is also responsible for key decisions including whether to prosecute a matter, what the charges should be, whether a matter should be withdrawn or discontinued, if an application should be made to confiscate property associated with crime, and whether to appeal.

In performance of the role, the DPP must:

  • have consideration to justice and fairness
  • conduct prosecutions in an effective, economic and efficient manner
  • ensure the prosecutorial system gives appropriate consideration to the concerns of the victims of crime.

As the head of the public prosecutions service, the DPP has a leadership role within the Victorian criminal justice system and contributes to law reform, particularly in relation to the reduction of court delays and the complexity of the legal process.

The history

In 1983 Victoria became the first jurisdiction in Australia to establish a DPP, following the enactment of the Director of Public Prosecutions Act 1982 by the Cain Government. Victoria's first DPP, John Harber Phillips QC (later Chief Justice of Victoria), took up his appointment in February 1983. Victoria's DPP's to date have been:

  • John Harber Phillips QC (1983–1984)
  • John Coldrey QC (1984–1991)
  • Bernard Bongiorno QC (1991–1994)
  • Geoff Flatman QC (1995–2001)
  • Paul Coghlan QC (2001–2007)
  • Jeremy Rapke QC (2007–2011)
  • John Champion S.C. (2011–2017 ).