Lord Chief Justice issues 8th Amendment to the Criminal Practice Directions 2015

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Message from Lord Burnett, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales

Today I am issuing the eighth amendment to the criminal practice directions 2015. This update includes, in particular, an important new direction concerning the effective management of investigative orders in the crown court. The processes and procedures it prescribes should enable many more applications to be conducted without a hearing in court, thereby producing efficiencies for both the applicants and the court.

The other new section that is of significance relates to trial management in the magistrate’s court. Following several initiatives over the years to improve effective case management and ensure speedy, summary justice is delivered, a wealth of case law has developed in relation to applications to vacate or adjourn trials. This direction consolidates and codifies in one place the important principles established by case-law in this area. It is essential reading to all those who sit on the bench, provide legal advice or appear in the magistrates’ courts.

The other amendments have been issued primarily to support rule changes that will come into force on the same day as these directions.

For the first time, I have included a new paragraph to reinforce the importance and status of these directions. Read together with the Criminal Procedure Rules they form an essential part of the law governing the criminal jurisdiction.

Proposed draft directions go through much debate and scrutiny by the criminal procedure rule committee, related sub groups and views of those affected across the criminal justice system are taken into account. This creates a body of practical guidance, in one central place that should have real operational impact and value. I am grateful to all of those across the system who give up their considerable time and energy to assist in the development of these directions. I appreciate the pressures on people’s time, but there is a wealth of guidance contained within them which is of real assistance.

With this update my office has made considerable efforts to make the directions more accessible and user-friendly, so please look out for the new Criminal Procedure icon coming soon to Ejudiciary and the court iPads. The contents page now contains links so you can move more freely around the document and there is now a basic index. This is still a work in progress, but demonstrates our commitment to ensuring essential guidance to the courts is as user-friendly as possible.

This is just one example of how the judiciary constantly reviews practice and procedure in our courts and tribunals with a view to improving and streamlining processes. In doing so the judiciary aims to improve the administration of justice for the benefit of all those engaged in the system and to avoid unnecessary time, trouble and expense.

This update will come into force on Monday 1st April 2019.