The Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) published its annual report for the legal year October 2013 – September 2014 today (8 December).
Over that period the Court received 4,706 applications to appeal sentence (compared with 5,156 in 2012/13) and 1,410 applications to appeal conviction (compared with 1,558 in 2012/13).
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:
- Incedal and Rarmoul-Bouhadjar – The Court considered whether a trial should be conducted entirely in private with the identity of both defendants withheld for national security reasons. It held that the main elements of the trial were to remain secret, but the identities of the defendants and the outcome of the trial were ordered to be made public.
- Ahmad and Fields – The Supreme Court upheld the Court’s decision on apportionment but said that the Crown could not enforce a confiscation order in a joint benefit case if they had already recovered the full amount of the benefit from a different defendant under a confiscation order.
- Achogbuo – When appeals are made on the grounds of incompetent legal representation, submissions must not be made without enquiries having been made of the original trial representatives first. In McCook it was found necessary to go further and for legal representatives to ensure that any factual details put in front of the court are accurate by checking with the original representatives.
- AG Reference (53 of 2012) – The fact of sexual activity having been initiated by a complainant under 16 was not a mitigating factor in sentencing. The relevant legislation is intended to protect those under 16 and the fact that an offender took advantage of encouragement by the victim was an aggravating, not a mitigating factor.
- Howe – The court gave guidance when sentencing offences of assisted suicide. The guidance covered a range of issues including motivation, the impact on individuals other than the primary victim, the state of mind and mental capacity of the victim and whether death or serious injury occurred. The guidance only related to face to face assistance and not remote encouragement by strangers over the internet which the court thought may need to be addressed on another occasion.
In the report, Master Egan QC, Registrar of Criminal Appeals, said:
“Our new Lord Chief Justice has ensured that the Court of Appeal regularly visits other court centres far from London, including regular sittings in Wales and there is a very real benefit when the Court of Appeal sits on Circuit.
“I have referred six applications for summary dismissal under Section 20 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1968 this year. This power to refer is used by me sparingly and tends to be confined to cases which are more properly described as an abuse of the appeal process rather than simply misconceived. The Court gives careful consideration before exercising the power to dismiss and declined to do so in one case. Four cases involved conduct which the Court ultimately decided should be reported to the appropriate regulatory body.
“We have noticed that communication between our Court and Crown Courts has improved out of all recognition and the apparent decrease in instances of inappropriate internet research seems to confirm an improvement in clear and unambiguous jury direction by Trial Judges.
“We continue to have a strong relationship with the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC). Directed investigations under section 23A Criminal Appeal Act 1968 into allegations of jury impropriety depend upon them and no one can ever fail to be impressed by the thoroughness and impartiality of their investigations.”
Other statistics published in the report show:
- Eighty five per cent of conviction applications considered during the year were refused by a single judge. Seventy four 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).
- Broadcasting of cases started at the beginning of the reporting year. In the last 12 months there have been 143 requests to film cases of which just over half involved sexual offending or where a death occurred.
Notes to Editors
1. The Court of Appeal’s (Criminal Division) Annual Report 2013/14 is available online at https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/publications/court-of-appeal-criminal-division-annual-report-2013-14/ Previous reports are also available online at: https://www.judiciary.gov.uk
2. For further information please contact Michael Duncan in the Judicial Press Office on 020 7073 4852, or firstname.lastname@example.org
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