Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) Annual Report 2014-15

|Reports and Reviews|Criminal

Introduction by the Lord Chief Justice

This is the nineteenth formal review of the work of the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division). As in previous years the review chronicles the most significant decisions made by the court and its performance statistics.

This year also represents the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the Criminal Procedure Rules Committee. In his seminal report A Review of the Criminal Courts published in 2001, Auld LJ made clear that a code of criminal procedure was essential to the proper conduct of a criminal trial. He summarised the need as follows: “Fairness, efficiency and the effectiveness of the criminal justice system demand that its procedures should be simple, accessible and, so far as practicable, the same for every level and type of criminal jurisdiction”. The first of the new Criminal Procedure Rules set out in clear terms the overriding objective that is the guiding spirit of the Rules. Since then the Rules, read with the Practice Direction, have been developed to encompass a considerable range of subjects, from the security of prisoners at court and handcuff applications, case management and complex terrorism cases, to handling the media and live tweeting from the courtroom. Another achievement has been the work of the consolidating of the Criminal Practice Direction which has brought together everything contained in numerous protocols, guidance and special agreements made over the years which were never readily ascertainable. We are beginning to see the usefulness and applicability of the Rules and Practice Direction in the Criminal Division. In handing down judgement in Lubemba (summarised in the body of the Review) the Vice President of the Court referred at length to the text of the Practice Direction when dealing with issues of questioning vulnerable witnesses. It is now impossible to see how any advocate can be regarded as competent to practice in the criminal courts unless familiar with the content of the Criminal Procedure Rules and Practice Direction.

Finally I would like to thank Master Egan QC and his team of lawyers and support staff, who continue to do such excellent work in facilitating the efficient progress of cases through the Criminal Division. The judiciary is grateful to them all.

Lord Thomas
Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales