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Civil law

Two people discussing civil law issues at a desk

Civil law defines the rights and responsibilities of individuals, government entities and private or non-government organisations in their interactions with each other. A breach of a civil law right or obligation does not usually lead to criminal processes and sanctions. 

For example, the laws around discrimination usually give rise to a right to compensation if they are broken, but a breach is rarely so serious as to amount to an offence under the criminal law. Similarly, the law of wills and estates defines the rights of people who might be entitled to claim on a deceased person's estate, but does not create offences except for the rare cases of fraudulent or dishonest conduct.

While criminal proceedings are usually commenced by the state against an individual or sometimes a corporation, civil proceedings are usually commenced by a private individual or business. Government entities from time to time also need to commence proceedings to enforce civil obligations against an individual or business that might arise under an Act, or to enforce a contract.

A list of all the Acts administered by the department's ministers (including criminal law Acts), can be found on the Legislation page.

The Victorian Government is undertaking reforms in the following areas of civil law:

Current or recent reviews

2015 Human Rights Charter Review (external link)

Access to Justice Review (external link)

Recent legislation

Changes in the Recognition of domestic relationships in Victoria commenced on 1 July 2016.

The Wrongs Amendment Act 2015 commenced on 19 November 2015. Find more information about compensation for personal injury.

The Powers of Attorney Act 2014 commenced on 1 September 2015. Find more information about powers of attorney.

The Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 commenced on 1 July 2015. Visit Legal Services Council (external link) for more information about the regulation of the legal profession.

Policies and ongoing matters

The Victorian Model Litigant Guidelines are standards for how the state should behave as a party to legal proceedings.

The Government Legal Services Panel (external link) is the arrangement under which selected firms of private solicitors provide legal services to government, apart from the services provided by the Victorian Government Solicitor.

LGBTI rights - see the Justice Working Group.

The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 protects people from discrimination on the basis of their individual attributes in certain areas of public life.

Fencing Law in Victoria

Vexatious Proceeding Act 2014 - Vexatious litigation is legal action that is taken only to annoy or embarrass the other party.

Administrators for missing persons' estates



Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander flags

The department acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Custodians of the land and acknowledges and pays respect to their Elders, past and present.