Royal Commission Offences

Royal Commission Charges and Penalties

Outside of seeking advice from Royal commission lawyers for appearing as a witness, there are specific Royal Commission offences that a person can be charged with.

In a Commonwealth Royal Commission, contempt is punishable by the head of the Commission who has all of the powers of a High Court Judge in that respect.

Royal Commission Offences

Witnesses giving evidence before a Royal Commission established by the Commonwealth are liable to the following offences 3 and Pt 3 of the Royal Commissions Act 1902 (Cth):

Offence

Obstructing the Commission

  • Failing to attend a hearing if you are required as a witness
  • Failing to produce documents that you are required to produce
  • Refusing to be sworn or make an affirmation, or to answer any question relevant to the inquiry put to you by any of the Commissioners
  • Giving false or misleading evidence
  • Doing anything that results in the destruction, concealment or mutilation of a document or thing that is or may be required in evidence before the Commission

Maximum Penalty

  • $1000 or 6 months imprisonment
  • $1000 or 6 months imprisonment
  • $1000 or 6 months imprisonment

  • $20,000 or 5 years imprisonment
  • $10,000 or 2 years imprisonment

Offence Relating to Witnesses

  • Bribing a witness to give false testimony or withhold true testimony
  • Practising fraud on a witness (e.g. by making false representations to him/her with the intention of affecting his/her testimony)
  • Preventing a witness from attending before a Royal Commission
  • Causing injury (by violence, punishment, damage, loss or disadvantage) to a person for appearing as a witness, giving evidence or producing documents before a Royal Commission
  • Dismissing an employee for appearing as a witness before a Royal Commission
  • 5 years imprisonment
  • 2 years imprisonment

  • 1 year imprisonment
  • $1000 or 1 year imprisonment


  • $1000 or 1 year imprisonment

Contempt

  • Intentionally insulting or disturbing a Royal Commission,
  • Interrupting the proceedings of a Royal Commission
  • Using any insulting language towards a Royal Commission
  • Writing or saying anything that is false and defamatory of a Royal Commission
  • $200 or 3 months imprisonment

  • $200 or 3 months imprisonment

  • $200 or 3 months imprisonment

  • $200 or 3 months imprisonment

Before a Victorian Royal Commission, the question of contempt is referred to the Supreme Court.

Witnesses appearing before Victorian Royal Commissions, a limited range of offences apply under ss 16, 19 and 20 of the Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958 (Vic) and s 314 of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic):

Offence

  • Failing without reasonable excuse to attend as required or to produce any documents as required by the summons
  • Once before the Commission, refusing to be sworn or without lawful excuse refuses or fails to answer any question touching the subject-matter of inquiry or to produce any document
  • Giving false evidence under oath before a Commission (perjury)

Maximum Penalty

  • 15 penalty units ($2165.40 in FY13-14)
    or 3 months imprisonment
  • 15 penalty units ($2165.40 in FY13-14)
    or 3 months imprisonment

  • 15 years imprisonment

To view sentencing decisions by Victorian County Courts for offences against the Royal Commission Act, visit this page.