On 29 October 2013, the Attorney-General asked the Victorian Law Reform Commission to review the common law rule of forfeiture and propose legislative reform if necessary.
The forfeiture rule prevents a person who has unlawfully killed another from inheriting from their victim or acquiring another financial benefit from the death. It is an expression of the fundamental principle that crime should not pay, and it conveys the community’s strongest disapproval of homicide.
The Commission produced a consultation paper in March 2014, which discussed three approaches to legislative reform and invited submissions.
The Commission received 17 submissions and conducted consultations with legal practitioner, academics, community-based organisations and relevant government agencies.
The report was tabled in the Victorian Parliament on 14 October 2014. The Commission concluded that the rule should continue to apply in all cases of murder and most other cases. However, some reform was necessary because in a small number of cases the rule does not operate fairly. These are cases that involve significantly reduced moral culpability. The Commission’s proposed reforms also reflected changes in other jurisdictions.
The introduction of a new Forfeiture Act was recommended, to clarify when the rule applies and how it affects the distribution of the deceased person’s estate. It was also suggested that the Supreme Court should be able to modify the effect of the rule in individual cases, except murder.
Download the report from the links below.