Saul Holt QC on the Launch of Butler and Holt’s Indictable Offences Queensland [Q&A]

Saul Holt QC
Saul Holt QC, General Editor, Butler and Holt’s Indictable Offences Queensland

Butler and Holt’s Indictable Offences Queensland is the essential guide to the law governing serious crime in Queensland. Available from 15 September 2016, this service will be released online through Westlaw AU, via eSubscription on ProView and in traditional looseleaf format as a two-volume set.

Written by practitioners for practitioners, the authoring team behind Butler and Holt’s Indictable Offences Queensland (IOQ) comprises experienced, practising barristers led by general editors Judge Brendan Butler AM SC of the Queensland District Court and Saul Holt QC.

In this interview, Mr Holt discusses the innovative and technology-forward approach taken in creating the IOQ service, how the new service will be of use to practitioners and what he is looking forward to in his role as General Editor.

Q: How did you approach creating the Indictable Offences Queensland subscription service?

A: To start off with, Judge Butler and I put together a team of authors who are all experienced criminal barristers. Our approach was to provide a thematic overview of the criminal law in Queensland (the Criminal Code together with legislation relating to key areas including drugs, procedure, sentencing and bail) and annotate those extensively but concisely.

The Criminal Code and related crimes legislation, such as the Bail Act 1980 (Qld) or the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld), are not intuitively navigable.

Our approach, which offers a number of benefits to practitioners, includes a theme-based index that takes readers to the relevant Criminal Code provision and commentary. It guides readers through a matter and enables them to follow the path of an indictable proceeding. The thematic overview can also act as a checklist of what must be considered for either a prosecution or defence.

Q: How will the new work be useful to practitioners?

A: Our intention is to render the criminal legislation governing serious crime in Queensland as accessible, navigable, chronologically logical and up to date as possible.

The IOQ service is therefore organised to provide practitioners with quick access to matters such as forms of indictment, jurisdiction, definitions, proof of the relevant offence (elements, penalty and defences), evidentiary issues and sentencing (including comparable cases).

Another innovative aspect of our approach to compiling the IOQ service is that we are focused on current law rather than working from the past into the present day by way of 19th century or, in some instances, obsolete case law.

We have structured the service so that practitioners can readily and immediately access the most current High Court or Queensland Court of Appeal cases relevant to their search topic. The IOQ service will be updated five times annually, and this current case law approach will also inform the review and updating process.

The IOQ service is also cross-referenced to other key content such as FirstPoint, Summary Offences Queensland, the Queensland Sentencing Manual and Evidence Law in Queensland, again with the driving intention to aid the busy practitioner in navigating increasingly complex areas of law and legal process.

Q: What are you looking forward to in your role as General Editor for IOQ?

A: I’m very much looking forward to keeping the IOQ service as clean, easy to use and up to date as possible. I think it’s fair to say that the past approach to some legal subscription services was simply to add to the body of what was already there. Over time, that approach might lead to something less workable and coherent than it otherwise might be.

One of my aims will be to keep the IOQ service as coherent and relevant as possible, that reads well and is a go-to ‘staple’ for practitioners in this area.

Q: How do you see mobile technology influencing the practice of law?

A: Mobile technology is getting more sophisticated, and I believe the future of trials and prosecutions is the integration of evidence with technology. In my opinion, it’s inevitable that services such as the IOQ will be provided and used electronically on mobile devices, even during trials.

While some practitioners still find comfort in bringing physical cases and statutes to court, I’ve found applications like ProView helpful in running trials directly off a tablet or laptop. The IOQ service has the appearance of a book when viewed through ProView on an iPad, but it features the linked and cross-referenced technology of a webpage, making it much more convenient to use.

Q: What made you go into law and what do you love about your work?

A: It’s something I found my way accidentally into after high school, but I came to love the law, criminal law in particular, and the act of performance that’s involved in running a case.

I practise across a number of areas: crime (largely in defence), environmental law and public law litigation. A very different mindset is required for each area and whether you’re prosecuting or defending. All areas are technically as challenging, but in the prosecution cases, the complexity is in putting the cases together. What I love about my work in criminal defence cases is the privilege of helping people at some of the most difficult and vulnerable times in their lives.

Q: What is your passion outside of the law?

A: My kids, who are five and seven, and diving and boating. We left Melbourne in the middle of a bad winter for a Queensland winter of 25-degree days and never looked back.

Q: What was the strangest or most satisfying case you were involved in?

A: One of the strangest cases I have been involved in was a trial that had gone perfectly normally until two jury members came to blows over heated deliberations. The jury was then discharged entirely and we had to start trial again with a new one.

In the criminal law sphere, there is never an ordinary case. They are all unique – strange if you like – and you see people at their best and at their worst. Many factors can affect how a trial plays out, but it’s always satisfying when you can tell yourself that the right thing has been done at the end of the day.

About Saul Holt QC

Over a distinguished and diverse legal career, Saul Holt QC has held Crown Prosecutor and Senior Crown Counsel positions in New Zealand, been the Director of Criminal Law (and later Chief Counsel) at Victoria Legal Aid, been appointed the Victorian Law Reform Commissioner and, as a Senior Policy Officer for the Department of Justice (Vic), was responsible for the development of the Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic).

He now practises at the Bar in both Queensland and Victoria across a wide range of trials, criminal appeals and public law cases, bringing a great depth of expertise and personal insight to his new role as co-General Editor of the IOQ subscription service.

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