Communities and Justice

Royal Prerogative of Mercy Review

The Attorney General has requested the Department of Justice to review the Royal prerorogative of mercy, and petitions to the Governor for the review of convictions or sentences. Specifically, the Department of Justice has been requested to review whether petitions and their outcomes should be made publicly available.

The Royal prerogative of mercy is a broad discretionary power exerciseable by the Governor acting on the advice of the Executive Council, and more specifically, the Attorney General.

In essence, the purpose of the power is to temper the rigidity of the law by dispensing clemency in appropriate circumstances. Strictly speaking, there are no legal restrictions on the exercise of the power. The power is only exercised in exceptional or special circumstances, and where it is necessary in the public interest.

The Governor's power to review convictions and sentences are a statutory power vested in him by section 76 of the Crimes (Appeal and Review) Act 2001. A petitioner must provide material which raises doubts or questions as to their guilt, the mitigating circumstances in their case, or any part of the evidence in the case. Where such material has been provided, the Governor possesses the power to refer the matter to a judicial officer for an inquiry into the petitioner's conviction or sentence.

Currently, due to the highly sensitive and personal nature of petitions, petitions and their outcomes are not made to the public.


Open to: Interested individuals and organisations.

Closing date: Friday, 9 February 2018.

All submissions and comments will be treated as public and may be published unless the author indicates that their submission is to be treated as confidential.

Terms of Reference

The terms of reference for the review seeks to provide a general background as to what comprises the Royal prerogative of mercy, and what is involved in a review of a petitioner's conviction or sentence.

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