Amendments to Practice Directions

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The following were handed down by the Lord Chief Justice on 23 March 2016:

  1. Amendment No. 1 to the Criminal Practice Directions 2015 [2016] EWCA Crim 97; and
  2. Amendment No. 1 to the Practice Direction (Costs in Criminal Proceedings) 2015 [2016] EWCA Crim 98.

Please note that these come into force on Monday 4 April 2016.

SUMMARY OF KEY CHANGES TO CRIMINAL PRACTICE DIRECTIONS: Amendment No. 1 to the Criminal Practice Directions 2015 [2016] EWCA Crim 97

This is the first amendment to the Criminal Practice Directions 2015 [2015] EWCA 1567. It was handed down by the Lord Chief Justice on 23 March 2016 and comes into force on 4 April 2016, at the same time as the Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2016 (SI 2016/120). It amends existing practice directions and adds new ones.

In summary, the Criminal Practice Directions 2015 are subject to the following amendments:

Replacement practice direction on intermediaries (CPD I General matters 3F: INTERMEDIARIES)

The replacement practice direction makes various changes to the guidance regarding intermediaries. It provides that:

  • In light of the scarcity of intermediaries, the appropriateness of assessment must be decided with care to ensure their availability for those witnesses and defendants who are most in need.
  • There is no presumption that witnesses and defendants under 18 (including those under 11) will be assessed by an intermediary.
  • Use of the court’s inherent powers to direct the appointment of intermediaries for defendants will be rare.
  • Where such directions are ineffective (for example, non-availability of an intermediary for the purpose directed), it remains the court’s responsibility to adapt the trial process to address defendants’ communication needs, as was the case prior to the existence of intermediaries.
  • It is preferable that trials involving intermediaries are fixed rather than placed in warned lists.

New practice direction on taking notes in court (CPD I General matters 6D: TAKING NOTES IN COURT)

The new practice direction provides guidance on note taking in court, in accordance with the judgment of the High Court in R (Ewing) v Cardiff Crown Court [2016] EWHC 183 (Admin). It provides that note taking is permitted unless there is a specific and compelling reason to prohibit it.

Replacement practice direction on voluntary bills of indictment (CPD II Preliminary proceedings 10B: VOLUNTARY BILLS OF INDICTMENT)

The replacement practice direction provides guidance to supplement the new rule (CrimPR 10.3) governing applications to a High Court judge for permission to serve a draft indictment under s.2 Administration of Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1933.

New practice directions on defence identification of the issues in magistrates’ courts and the Crown Court (CPD VI Trial 24B: IDENTIFICATION FOR THE COURT OF THE ISSUES IN THE CASE and Trial 25A: IDENTIFICATION FOR THE JURY OF THE ISSUES IN THE CASE

The new practice directions provide guidance to supplement the new rules (CrimPR 24.3(3)(b) and 25.9(2)(c)) allowing defence identification of the issues at the beginning of trials in magistrates’ courts and the Crown Court. The provisions give effect to recommendations made by Sir Brian Leveson in his Review of Efficiency in Criminal Proceedings (2015).

Replacement practice direction on early directions, written route to verdict, other written materials and summing up (including split summing up) (CPD VI Trial 26K: JURIES: DIRECTIONS, WRITTEN MATERIALS AND SUMMING UP)

The replacement practice direction provides guidance to supplement the rules (CrimPR 25.14(2) and 25.14(3)(a)) on trials in the Crown Court regarding the timing of directions and the content of the summing up. The provisions give effect to recommendations to improve the efficiency of jury trials made by Sir Brian Leveson in his Review of Efficiency in Criminal Proceedings (2015).

The practice direction covers the:

  • Early provision of appropriate directions;
  • Provision of a written route to verdict;
  • Provision of other written materials;
  • Provision of a split summing up (a summing up delivered in two parts – the first part prior to the closing speeches and the second part afterwards); and
  • Streamlining the summing up to help the jury focus on the issues.

It also emphasises the importance of full and accurate record-keeping, particularly in relation to early directions, to enable the Registrar of Criminal Appeals to obtain transcripts in the event of an appeal. The responsibility to ensure such directions are recorded encompasses judges, court staff and the parties.

Replacement practice direction on appeal notices (CPD IX Appeal 39C: APPEAL NOTICES AND GROUNDS OF APPEAL)

The replacement practice direction provides guidance to supplement the rule (CrimPR 39.3(c)) requiring transcripts to be identified in the appeal notice, where the appellant wants to appeal against conviction. This includes specifying the date and time of both parts of a split summing up and of any relevant additional transcripts such as rulings or early directions.

SUMMARY OF KEY CHANGES TO PRACTICE DIRECTION (COSTS IN CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS): Amendment No. 1 to the Practice Direction (Costs in Criminal Proceedings) 2015 [2016] EWCA Crim 98

This is the first amendment to the Practice Direction (Costs in Criminal Proceedings) 2015 [2015] EWCA Crim 1568. It was handed down by the Lord Chief Justice on 23 March 2016 and comes into force on 4 April 2016, at the same time as the Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2016 (SI 2016/120).

In summary, the Practice Direction (Costs in Criminal Proceedings) 2015 is subject to the following amendments: paragraph 4.1.6 is added and paragraphs 1.2.4, 4.2.6 and 4.7.6 are amended and replaced.

The amendments provide guidance to supplement new rules (CrimPR 45.8 to 45.10) enabling courts to require assistance (from the National Taxing Team or the Registrar of Criminal Appeals) when assessing costs. It is envisaged the power will be exercised in ‘a few, exceptional, cases’ where ‘it may better meet the overriding objective to secure the assistance of an assessing authority than for the court to embark upon a complex assessment without such assistance.’

Lord Chief Justice
23 March 2016

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