Justice Outside London: Training and Court of Appeal

|Reports and Reviews

Training

  1. Appropriate judicial and administrative training is necessary if the Administrative Court is to be established regionally.
  2. Judicial training of nominated section 9 deputy High Court judges should be under the aegis of the Judicial Studies Board. It would probably be appropriate in the first instance to have a suitable course organised for the purpose under the leadership of the lead judge of the Administrative Court in the Royal Courts of Justice. The JSB is generally aware that this will be our recommendation, but have not, we believe, yet anticipated the cost in any budget.
  3. Administrative training is a matter for HMCS, but would obviously have to include training at the Administrative Court office in London or by its officers and staff.

Court of Appeal

  1. The two divisions of the Court of Appeal are administered in London and mainly sit in London. It is not within our terms of reference to consider recommending that offices of the Court of Appeal should be established out of London.
  2. Each of the Civil and Criminal Divisions of the Court of Appeal on occasions sit out of London. Such sittings are arranged with reasonable regularity, e.g. in Cardiff. There are problems which include (a) difficulties in arranging viable lists, (b) the disruption and expense of organising a three judge court out of London, and (c) providing adequate accommodation for the judges.
  3. Taking the Criminal Division out of London is, or should be, rather less troublesome than taking the Civil Division. Criminal appeals are more numerous than civil appeals, which should make listing less difficult; and it is often practical and sensible to put together a constitution of the Court of Appeal Criminal Division using two judges who are already sitting at the regional centre. By this means, only the Head of Division or Lord Justice presiding in the constitution has to travel.
  4. Compiling lists for hearings out of London is intrinsically problematic. We believe that, in the recent past, the problem has been accentuated because it has been decided at rather short notice that a constitution of the court should sit regionally, and a list of appeals then has to be cobbled together for that court to hear. We regard this as being conceptually the wrong way round. If the object of the court sitting out of London is for the court to hear appeals which should be heard regionally, the constitution should travel to hear an existing viable list of appeals. It is a policy question beyond our terms of reference whether either Division of the Court of Appeal should on occasions sit out of London for reasons other than or additional to the need to hear appeals which should be heard regionally.
  5. We understand that the officers and staff of each Division of the Court of Appeal now have systematic arrangements for identifying appeals which could or should be heard regionally, and that the process of compiling lists for this purpose has improved. It nevertheless remains difficult to construct viable lists of appeals. The reasons for this include that (a) for the Civil Division, appeals often settle leaving the judges and staff somewhat adrift – in London there would be much else to do; and (b) for the Criminal Division, many theoretically appropriate regional appeals where the appellant is in custody cannot properly wait for a regional sitting.
  6. We recommend that each Division gives co-ordinated consideration (a) to identify the purposes for which the court should sit out of London, and the regional centres where those purposes can properly be achieved; and (b) to improve further the process of identifying appeals for listing regionally. We further recommend that the two divisions should more closely co-operate when and where each division will sit regionally. We venture to suggest that the purpose of sitting regionally should be to hear viable lists of appeals which should be heard locally, and that the centres at which this could properly happen may be Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.
  7. The problem of accommodating the members of the court and staff on circuit is a practical one. We would suggest that visiting members of the Court of Appeal should not expect to displace in lodgings judges who are deployed to the regional centre for much longer periods. With proper planning, accommodating a single Head of Division or Lord Justice to preside over a constitution of the Criminal Division where the other members of the constitution are already there for other reasons should not be unduly problematic. Accommodating three visiting members of the Civil Division is another matter. We understand that there are reasonably comfortable lodgings’ overflow arrangements at Cardiff and Birmingham, but not at Manchester. We are unclear whether they are completely satisfactory in practical respects. We understand that the lodgings at Leeds may normally be sufficient. However, if the Civil Division is to sit regularly at these or other centres, we recommend that systematic consideration is given to the lodgings question.
  8. One possibility would be to co-ordinate sittings of the Civil Division with those of High Court judges on circuit, so that High Court judges would just not be sitting at all at the centre when the Civil Division is there. This could in theory be done if, for instance, the Civil Division sat in Birmingham in a week when there were no Chancery, Queen’s Bench or Family Division judges in Birmingham. The Court of Appeal judges could then readily be accommodated in the Birmingham lodgings. That would, however, raise a policy question whether a week’s sitting of the Civil Division in Birmingham justified losing a week’s sitting in Birmingham of four or five High Court judges.