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If a claimant has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment greater than three years, Part 7 of the Public Trustee Act 1978 will likely apply to the claimant.
This means that automatically as a result of the claimant’s sentencing, the Public Trustee is the manager of the claimant’s estate. It is an automatic application due to the length of the claimant’s imprisonment sentence, and it applies whether or not the claimant was to bring a claim.
If a claim is being made, it is important for the claimant to be aware of the powers that the Public Trustee has in managing the claimant’s estate.
Upon reaching a resolution of the claimant’s claim, any monies paid in settlement of the claimant’s claim by the defendant will be paid directly to the Public Trustee. The Public Trustee can then do any of the following:-
Although the Public Trustee does have some discretionary power to discontinue management of an estate, the power does not officially cease until one of the following occurs:-
As set out above, it is likely that the Public Trustee will have the power to manage the claimant’s estate until the completion of their full time (note this is not a claimant’s release on parole, it is when their full imprisonment sentence has been served). Even if the Public Trustee exercise their discretionary power to discontinue management of the claimant’s estate, they can resume management at any time.
At this stage it is also important to note Part 12B of the Corrective Services Act 2006 which can also apply to a claimant’s claim.
This section means that any money that a claimant is awarded could also go to a Victim Trust Fund which is held by the Public Trustee to pay any awards on eligible victims claims against the claimant or any amounts of eligible entity claims (e.g. Victims of Crime claims, SPER debts, child support debts) against the claimant. This means that a victim can then make a claim against the fund for any injury caused to them by the claimant’s conduct that, on the balance of probabilities, constitutes an offence. Whether or not the claimant has been prosecuted for, or convicted of, an offence is irrelevant.
The Public Trustee will notify any potential victims that they may have a victim claim and that they must bring such a claim within 6 months after they receive the notice. The Public Trustee must then determine whether or not the claim is eligible and if so, pay the claim.
Essentially, the effect of the Corrective Services Act 2006 and the Public Trustee Act 1978 are very similar. The Public Trustee will determine the claimant’s debts, and any claims against the claimant, and then the claimant will receive the balance of the funds.
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