Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) Annual Report 2015-16

|Reports and Reviews|Criminal

Introduction by the Lord Chief Justice

The publication of this Report marks another year in the life of the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division). It has been a busy one for us.

The importance of the work done in this Court can be summarized very simply. It is there to ensure that so far as humanly possible convictions which are unsafe are set aside, and sentences which are either manifestly excessive or unduly lenient are corrected. Convictions which are safe and sentences which are appropriate must be upheld. That simple summary of the objective of this Court reveals its importance, and the high level of responsibility which all who work in the Court, whether in the office or in the Court itself, must carry.

The Court is often burdened with having to deal with comprehending and applying legislation which could have been better drafted and better organised. The law on sentencing particularly has become highly complex and provisions are often contained within an array of separate but overlapping sources. I therefore welcome the on-going work of the Law Commission to codify sentencing law and to introduce a single sentencing Code that will act as the first and only port of call for sentencing.

Some of the problems both of substantive and procedural law addressed by the Court this year are discussed in the text of the Review. They provide a thumbnail sketch of the work of the Court, which has on a number of occasions been specially constituted to consider matters such as sentencing in terrorism and historic sexual cases, credit for assistance given to the authorities, inconsistent verdicts and fresh evidence in sentence appeals.

Finally, I should like to thank Sir Brian Leveson, the President of the Queen’s Bench Division and Lady Justice Hallett, the Vice-President of the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division, for the strong leadership they have provided to the Court over the last year, and to extend my thanks to the judges sitting in the Court for their commitment and dedication. They often have to cope with its burdens by working late into the night and at the weekends, so that they are fully prepared for the hearings and are able to deliver reserved judgments as speedily as possible. I would also wish to extend my thanks to the staff working in the office. The efficient disposal of the work of the Court depends on them, presided over with his unchanging, cheerful efficiency by Michael Egan QC.

Lord Thomas

Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales