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):

Maximum Penalty
Obstructing the Commission
Failing to attend a hearing if you are required as a witness $1000 or 6 months imprisonment
Failing to produce documents that you are required to produce $1000 or 6 months imprisonment
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 $1000 or 6 months imprisonment
Giving false or misleading evidence $20,000 or 5 years imprisonment
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 $10,000 or 2 years imprisonment
Offence Relating to Witnesses
Bribing a witness to give false testimony or withhold true testimony 5 years imprisonment
Practising fraud on a witness (e.g. by making false representations to him/her with the intention of affecting his/her testimony) 2 years imprisonment
Preventing a witness from attending before a Royal Commission 1 year imprisonment
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 $1000 or 1 year imprisonment
Dismissing an employee for appearing as a witness before a Royal Commission $1000 or 1 year imprisonment
Intentionally insulting or disturbing a Royal Commission, $200 or 3 months imprisonment
Interrupting the proceedings of a Royal Commission $200 or 3 months imprisonment
Using any insulting language towards a Royal Commission $200 or 3 months imprisonment
Writing or saying anything that is false and defamatory of a Royal Commission $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):

Maximum Penalty
Failing without reasonable excuse to attend as required or to produce any documents as required by the summons 15 penalty units ($2165.40 in FY13-14) or 3 months imprisonment
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 15 penalty units ($2165.40 in FY13-14) or 3 months imprisonment
Giving false evidence under oath before a Commission (perjury) 15 years imprisonment

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