Government welcomes VLRC report on forfeiture rule

Attorney-General Robert Clark has welcomed a report from the Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC) tabled in Parliament today examining the common law rule of forfeiture.

The forfeiture rule prohibits people who have unlawfully killed another person from inheriting from their victim in certain circumstances.

In 2013 Mr Clark asked the VLRC to review the common law forfeiture rule and the circumstances in which it should no longer be appropriate for a person who has killed another person to benefit from that death. The VLRC issued a consultation paper in March this year and considered submissions from a range of organisations and individuals.

The report recommends the introduction of legislation to define the scope and effect of the common law rule of forfeiture and to allow the Supreme Court to modify the effect of the rule in particular cases if the justice of the case requires it.

The report recommends the legislation reinforce the common law position that a person who has unlawfully killed another person should not be able to acquire a benefit in consequence, so as to manifest the community’s denunciation of the killing and deter persons from unlawfully killing for financial gain.

“This is an important area of law for families and others affected by an unlawful killing,” Mr Clark said.

“The law needs to ensure that crime does not pay, that any exceptions to the rule are appropriate, and that the rules are applied fairly and appropriately.

“I would like to thank the Commission for the valuable report it has produced on this important issue.

“The Government will now carefully consider the report and its recommendations with a view to introducing legislation in the next Parliament.”