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Right to a fair hearing

Section 24 of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities (the Charter) means that Victorians appearing before a court or tribunal – whether in a criminal or civil case – have the right to a fair and public hearing, and to have their case decided by a competent, independent and impartial court or tribunal. The Charter applies to public authorities in Victoria, such as state and local government departments and agencies, and people delivering services on behalf of the government.

How does the law protect me?

Under the Charter, Whether you are a defendant in a criminal case or a party to a civil case, you have the right to a fair hearing before a competent, independent and impartial court or tribunal established by law.

The Charter gives you the right to a fair public hearing, but the court or tribunal may decide to exclude media or other people from a public hearing if other laws allow this.

Under the Charter, courts and tribunals must make their decisions public. 

Can this right be limited in any way?

In some circumstances, one person’s right may come into conflict with the right of another person or group. In these circumstances, it can be necessary to limit or restrict these rights. Under section 7(2) of the Charter, rights may be limited in certain circumstances, but it must be reasonable, necessary, justified and proportionate.

While section 24 requires courts and tribunals to make their decisions public, in some cases, they may decide that this is not appropriate – for example, if a case involves children, a court might decide that it is not in their best interests for the decision to be made public.  

How we can help

We can give you information about Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities but we do not handle complaints related to the Charter.

If you would like more information about the Charter and your rights, please contact us.

For information about the legal history of this right, case law or Australia’s human rights framework, you can read more in our Policy and Legal sections of our website.

How to make a human rights complaint

If you think your human rights have been breached, you should contact the Victorian Ombudsman.

If you want to make a complaint about police conduct, contact the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission.

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Level 3, 204 Lygon Street Carlton Victoria 3053

General enquiries

1300 891 848

Enquiry line
1300 292 153 or (03) 9032 3583

1300 152 494

NRS Voice Relay
1300 555 727 then use 1300 292 153

Media enquiries
0447 526 642

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission acknowledges that we work on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We also work remotely and serve communities on the lands of other Traditional Custodians.

We pay our respects to their Elders past and present.