The Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) has published its annual report for the legal year October 2012 – September 2013 today (5 December).
Over that period the Court received 5,156 applications to appeal sentence (compared with 5,711 in 2011/12) and 1,558 applications to appeal conviction (compared with 1,731 in 2011/12).
An important role of the Court is to provide guidance to the lower courts on issues arising from procedure, evidence and new legislation. The report highlights a number of significant judgments that do this:
- Perkins & Others – the Court considered victim personal and family impact statements, whose purpose was to keep courts informed of the impact of the offence on victims. Such statements constituted evidence and had to be in proper witness statement form and served on the defendant’s legal advisers in good time for instructions to be taken.
- CED; Polladian-Kari; and Hopkinson – juror issues continued to be a feature in appeals against conviction. In CED the Court found that it was not necessary to discharge a juror because she had been a victim of a similar crime. In Polladian-Kari the Court found on the facts of the case that a juror which specialist knowledge should have been discharged due to a real possibility of unconscious bias. In Hopkinson the Court held that both the conviction and special verdict had to be quashed in light of the Judge’s findings of fact in relation to jury intimidation pre-dating the verdict against the appellant.
- Bestel & Others – in this judgment the Court gave guidance on the relevant principles when considering whether to grant an extension of time to appeal against a confiscation order when the effect of granting the application would be to allow the applicant to take advantage of a change in the law following Waya  UKSC 51.
- L & Others – this judgment enabled the Court to give guidance about how the interests of those who were, or might be, victims of trafficking, and who became enmeshed in criminal proceedings, should be approached after criminal proceedings against them had begun.
- Oakes & Others – in this judgment the Court said that the provisions of Schedule 21 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and paragraph 4 which enabled the court to make a whole life order were not incompatible with and did not contravene Article 3 ECHR.
In the report, Master Egan QC, Registrar of Criminal Appeals, said:
“Confiscation has had an increased profile in [the Court of Appeal], aside from the effect of Waya in general no single type of case imposes greater burdens in terms of preparation and hearing.
“The overwhelming majority of legal representatives we deal with are anxious to get their applications right. However burdens are imposed by excessive and irrelevant paperwork.
Good appellate paperwork is concise and easy to follow. Some jurisdictions impose a strict page count upon applicants and respondents. This is an option but it should not be necessary if advocates remember two basic points:
“1. Rule 68.3(2)(b) CPR requires grounds to “concisely outline each argument in support”. That invariably means short and to the point. Long discursive documents, are not only unwise, they are not in accordance with the rules.
“2. Excessive reliance on authority should be avoided. Advocates should consider the instruction given in the Criminal Practice Directions  EWCA 1631 at D2-D4 about citing unnecessary authority.”
Other statistics published in the report show:
- Seventy five per cent of conviction applications considered during the year were refused by a single judge. Sixty eight per cent of sentence applications were refused by a single judge.
- The Court heard 358 full conviction appeals (compared with 377 the previous year) and 1,640 full sentence appeals (compared with 2,001 the previous year). There were 1,209 applications for leave to appeal conviction (compared with 1,341 the previous year) and 4,209 applications for leave to appeal sentence (compared with 4,469 the previous year).
- The average time of cases disposed of by the Court over the previous 12 months was 9.3 months for conviction cases where leave to appeal was granted or the case referred to the full Court (compared with 7.8 months in 2011/12) and 4.5 months for sentence cases (the same as in 2011/12).
Since the period of this report the filming of selected cases in the Court of Appeal has begun following the coming into force of the enabling legislation. It is in its infancy but early indications appear positive. Next year’s report will include information on hearings filmed.
– ENDS –
Notes to Editors
1. The Court of Appeal’s (Criminal Division) Annual Report 20012/13 is available online at https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/publications-and-reports/reports/crime/court-appeal-criminal-division/appeal-court-criminal-division-annualrpt-12-13. Previous reports are available online at: https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/publications-and-reports/reports/crime/court-appeal-criminal-division
2. For further information please contact the Judicial Press Office on 020 7073 4852, or firstname.lastname@example.org