The Lord Chief Justice has asked Sir Brian Leveson, President of the Queen’s Bench Division, to conduct a review to identify ways to streamline and modernise the process of criminal justice and reduce the total length of criminal proceedings.
In the first phase, the review will examine the extent to which better use could be made of technology – for example holding short hearings by telephone or web or video-based applications. It is expected to identify ways to reduce the number of pre-trial hearings that require defendants in custody and advocates attending court.
Sir Brian will initially report to the Lord Chief Justice within nine months. His review is expected to make recommendations for changes to the Criminal Procedure Rules to maximise efficiency and support the implementation of any changes proposed.
The review is being carried out in response to a request from the Lord Chancellor.
Notes for Editors:
1. Biographical notes:
Sir Brian Leveson was called to the Bar by Middle Temple in 1970. He practised on the Northern Circuit from chambers in Liverpool, across the full range of common law including crime, personal injury and commercial work. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1986, and was a Recorder and a Deputy High Court Judge. He was appointed a Judge of the High Court, Queen’s Bench Division, in 2000, and served as a Presiding Judge of the Northern Circuit. In 2005 he was appointed to the new position of Deputy Senior Presiding Judge and in 2006, following his appointment as a Lord Justice of Appeal, he became Senior Presiding Judge for England and Wales. In October 2013 he became President of the Queen’s Bench Division.
In 2009, he was appointed Chairman of the Sentencing Council, a post he held until November 2013. In July 2011, he was appointed by the Prime Minister to chair the public inquiry investigating the culture, practices and ethics of the press and its relationship with the public, the police and politicians: his report was published in November 2012.
He is an honorary fellow of Merton College, Oxford, is the Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University and has received an honorary LL.D. from the University of Liverpool.
2. Initial Terms of Reference:
While taking into account:
a) existing rules and procedures for criminal cases;
b) current initiatives to improve the efficiency and speed of the criminal justice system (in particular recent changes relating to the early guilty plea scheme);
c) the need for robust case management;
d) recommendations made in previous reviews of the criminal justice system, including those not implemented at the time; and
e) Government reforms to the criminal justice system;
1. Review current practice and procedures for pre-trial hearings and recommend ways in which such procedures could be:
a) further reduced or streamlined;
b) improved with the use of technology both to minimise the number of such hearings or, alternatively, conducted (whether by telephone, or internet based video solutions) without requiring the attendance of advocates.
2. Review the Criminal Procedure Rules to ensure that:
a) maximum efficiency is required from every participant within the system;
b) any changes proposed are fully supported by the Rules.
3. Report to the Lord Chief Justice within 9 months. The report will be published in due course.