The Criminal Practice Directions, revised October 2014: Summary of Key Changes and Additions

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The Criminal Practice Directions were wholly revised and updated in October 2013 with the principle aim of making them more accessible to practitioners as well as encapsulating both legislative change and best practice.

There are still existing protocols and guidance in operation that will in due course, where appropriate, be subsumed into the Criminal Practice Directions. Below is a summary of the key changes and amendments that have been incorporated into the Criminal Practice Directions 2014.

Key amendments:

1. CPD XIII Listing and Allocation Practice Direction

Annex F and other provisions which deal with the allocation of work and listing issues were saved from the update that was issued in October 2013. A substantial review of those sections has now been undertaken after consultation with the judiciary, Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service, Chief Magistrates’ Office, Justices’ Clerks’ Society, Magistrates’ Association, National Bench Chairmen’s Forum, Crown Prosecution Service and the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee, to fully update and revise this section. CPD XIII is the culmination of this work and represents a significant change to the classification, listing and allocation of work in the magistrates’ and Crown courts.

There is a new classification structure in force which takes account of legislative change and ensures that the workloads of the Crown Court are more accurately captured. The new sections which require Resident Judges to notify Presiding Judges of certain types of cases should ensure that cases which require particular judicial skill and experience are highlighted early on in the proceedings to ensure that the Court can actively manage the case in furtherance of its duties and obligations under the Criminal Procedure Rules’ Overriding Objective. The classification structure, as drafted, continues to work within the parameters of the current Crown Court CREST system. It is not anticipated that any revisions to the computer system are required at this stage. Significant reform projects are currently underway that will, in time, incorporate the new classification structure.

A significant change is the introduction of the requirement that all Judges dealing with sex cases in the Crown Court will have to be authorised to hear such cases. Before they can sit on such cases they will have attended the Judicial College Serious Sex Offences Seminar. There is a requirement that this training should be maintained and updated by attending the seminar at least once every three years.

Annex 1 incorporates parts of the protocol for the deployment of the judiciary in the magistrates’ courts. It highlights parts which deal with the operational mechanics of listing of work between the magistrates and the District Judges (Magistrates’ Court).

Annex 2 subsumes and updates the guidance issued by the Senior Presiding Judge in March 2010 which deals with serious sex cases in the youth court.

Annex 3 is significant for those cases in the magistrates’ court where a very large fine is likely to be imposed. It attempts to ensure that such cases, as defined by the Annex are dealt with by suitably authorised members of the judiciary.

2. CPD 1 General matters Part 5C medical certificates

This is a new part which incorporates the guidance issued by the Senior Presiding Judge in November 2008 in relation to issuing of medical certificates.

3. CPD II Preliminary Proceedings 16B.1 Restrictions on reporting proceedings

This section has been amended to reflect the fact that the guidance on reporting restrictions has been updated in June 2014.

4. CPD II Preliminary Proceedings Part 17 Extradition

There is a new Practice Direction which complements the new Criminal Procedure Rules in force on Extradition Appeals. This has been drafted in consultation with the Administrative Court Office and aims to deal with new procedures for the handling of extradition appeals by the High Court.

5. CPD V Evidence Part 33A Expert Evidence

This is a new Practice Direction that deals with the provision of experts’ reports and the factors that the court should look at when evaluating the quality and contents of an experts’ report.

6. CPD VII Sentencing Q: Financial, etc information required for sentencing

This new section sets out the information that is to be supplied to the court before sentence. It is likely to be of most significance when corporate defendants are sentenced in cases of an environmental, public health and safety or other regulatory offences. It follows the judgments in R V Friskies Petcare (UK) Ltd [2000] 2 Cr App R and R v F Howe and Son (Engineers) ltd [1999] 2 Cr App R (s) 37.

7. CPD X Appeal 68F Skeleton Arguments

This amendment requires the date to be added to all documents that are filed at the Criminal Appeal Office. It also directs that parties must supply skeleton arguments when a complex or novel point of law is raised in cases where convictions are being appealed.

8. Practice Direction (Costs in Criminal Proceedings)

This has been updated to remove a reference to cases being committed under s.6 Magistrates’ Court Act 1980. It further encapsulates the changes made by The Costs in Criminal Cases (General) (Amendment) (no 2) Regulations 2013. Senior Costs Judge Hurst and Master Gordon-Saker were consulted with to ensure this update is accurately captured within the Practice Direction.

 

Lord Chief Justice 23 July 2014

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