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

The Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) published its annual report for the legal year October 2014 – September 2015 today.

Over that period the Court received 4,518 applications to appeal sentence (compared with 4,706 in 2013/14) and 1,518 applications to appeal conviction (compared with 1,410 in 2013/14).

An important role of the Court is to provide guidance to the lower courts on issues arising from procedure, evidence and new legislation. The report highlights a number of significant judgments that do this:

  • Hunter – A specially constituted five judge court considered the extent and nature of the good character direction.

  • R v Vowles – The Court gave guidance on case involving mental disorder. The court’s duty is to consider whether a hospital order is the most suitable disposable and even if two psychiatric opinions concurred it was, that in itself is not sufficient reason for a medical disposal.

  • BurtonIn refusing the case to go to a second trial the Court observed that only in exceptional cases should a third trial take place in order to maintain public confidence in the justice system.
  • R v NKA – When considering whether a judge can give their summing up in two parts, the Court took exception to such practise and said that judges should sum up the law and the facts of a case following counsel’s speeches. It should be noted that this has now been reversed by the Criminal Procedure Rules: see CrimPR 25.14(2).

  • Pipe – Following a trial where a young complainant had broken down in distress while giving evidence, the Court found that the fact that a complainant was unable to complete their evidence was not necessarily a barrier to the trial continuing.
  • Clifford In sentencing, the trial judge referred to the defendant’s contemptuous attitude towards proceedings which included ‘clowning around’ in front of TV cameras. The Court upheld the total sentence but commented that this behaviour and attitude should not have been treated as an aggravating factor.
  • R v Andrews (Donald Joseph) – The Court considered that while the practice to date had not been to impose whole-life orders in non-homicide cases, the “door is not conclusively shut” to the imposition of such a sentence in a serious case.


In the report, Lord Thomas, the Lord Chief Justice said:

“This year represents the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the Criminal Procedure Rules Committee. Since then the Rules, 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.”

Master Egan QC, Registrar of Criminal Appeals, said:

“In line with the Lord Chief Justice’s preference for the Court of Appeal to sit outside London more often, this year the Court has sat in Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle, Preston, Exeter, Lewes and Leeds. “

“Applications for leave to appeal lodged by applicants acting in person have increased significantly this year and I anticipate this trend may well continue. This is likely to place a greater demand on the Court office in terms of advice to applicants and support to the judiciary.”


Other statistics published in the report show:

  • Seventy nine per cent of conviction applications considered during the year were refused by a single judge. Seventy per cent of sentence applications were refused by a single judge.
  • The Court heard 299 full conviction appeals (compared with 397 the previous year) and 1,424 full sentence appeals (compared with 1,582 the previous year). There were 1,232 applications for leave to appeal conviction (compared with 1,148 the previous year) and 3,226 applications for leave to appeal sentence (compared with 3,841 the previous year).


Notes to Editors

  1. The Court of Appeal’s (Criminal Division) Annual Report 2013/14 is available online at Previous reports are also available online at:
  2. For further information please contact the Judicial Press Office at



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