Custody Time Limits (CTL): Revised Procedure

|Protocols|Criminal

Listing is a judicial function. Every effort must be made to list cases for trial within the CTL limits set by Parliament.

The guiding principles are:

  • At the first hearing in the Crown Court, the Judge will ask the prosecution to inform the court when the CTL elapses;
  • Then, or at the PCMH, all efforts must be made to list the case within the CTL. The CTL may only be extended in unusual or exceptional circumstances;
  • If suitable, given priority and listed on a date not less than 2 weeks before the CTL expires, a case may be placed in a warned list;
  • The CTL should be kept under continual review by the parties, HMCTS and the Resident Judge;
  • If the CTL is at risk of being exceeded, an additional hearing should take place and should be listed before the Resident Judge or trial Judge;
  • An application to extend the CTL in any case listed outside the CTL must be considered by the court whether or not it was listed with the express consent of the defence;
  • Any application to extend CTLs must be considered as a matter of urgency. The reasons for needing the extension must be ascertained and fully explained to the court;
  • Where courtroom or judge availability is an issue, the court must itself list the case to consider the extension of any CTL. The Cluster Manager or Delivery Director must provide a statement setting out in detail what was done to try to accommodate the case within the CTL;
  • Where courtroom or judge availability is not in issue, but all parties and the court agree that the case will not be ready for trial before the expiration of the CTL, a date may be fixed outside the CTL. This may be done without prejudice to any application to extend the CTLs or with the express consent of the defence, This must be noted on the papers.

Where courtroom or judge availability is an issue, and to avoid a case remaining or being listed outside the CTL, the following should be done well in advance of the date when the CTL expires:

  • The list officer must consider the nature and length of other cases listed in the courthouse and, with the Resident Judge, assess whether any could be moved or vacated to accommodate the case in question within the CTL;
  • If this does not resolve the problem, enquiries must be made across the cluster. The Regional Listing Co-ordinator (where appropriate) and Cluster Manager should be involved;
  • If this does not resolve the problem, the Regional Listing Co-ordinator/Cluster Manager must make enquiries across the Region. The Regional Support Unit, Delivery Director and Presiding Judge should be informed and involved as necessary;
  • If this does not resolve the problem the RSU must make enquiries across neighbouring regions. Delivery Directors and Presiding Judges should be informed and involved as necessary;
  • If this does not resolve the problem, the Senior Presiding Judge and the HMCTS Director of Crime, (guy.tompkins@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk) should be informed and involved.