New section 72D – preliminary hearing: further provision
29.Subsection (1) allows a preliminary hearing to proceed in the absence of the accused. This enables the court to take decisions in relation to a case, including the decision to set a trial diet, even if the accused has not attended. Subsection (2) provides that if an accused body corporate fails to appear and enter a plea and the court allows the hearing to proceed in its absence, it shall be deemed to have pled not guilty
30.Subsection (3) states that when a trial diet is appointed the accused is required to attend that diet.
31.Subsection (4)(a) provides that the court shall at a preliminary hearing take into account any written record lodged under section 72E of the Act. New section 72E provides for lodging by prosecution and defence of a joint record of the state of preparedness of the case (see the notes in relation to section 2 below). The court may under subsection (4)(b) ask parties any question in connection with any matter which it is required to dispose of, or ascertain, under section 72.
32.Subsections (5) to (7) ensure that the proceedings at a preliminary hearing are duly recorded (by mechanical or shorthand means) in line with the provisions of section 93(2) to (4) of the 1995 Act. They also ensure that a full minute of the proceedings shall be prepared by the clerk, which includes in particular whether any preliminary pleas or issues were raised and how they were disposed of.