Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) Annual Report 2012-13

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Introduction by the Lord Chief Justice

The publication of this Report marks not only a year in the life of the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division, but also my final year as Lord Chief Justice. It has been an interesting and active year for both of us.

The efficient disposal of the work of the Court depends on the lawyers and staff working in the office, presided over with his cheerful efficiency by Michael Egan QC, and by the commitment and dedication of the judges sitting in the Court, who cope with its burdens by working late into the night and at the weekends, so that they are fully prepared for the hearings. The pressures are unrelenting. I pass on my grateful thanks to them all. This year also saw the promotion to the Supreme Court of Lord Justice Hughes, who for four years presided over the Court as Vice President. His active but calm leadership, in what has become an increasingly difficult and complex area of judicial responsibility will be greatly missed.

Some of the problems both of substantive and procedural law addressed by the Court this year are discussed in the text of the Review. They provide a thumbnail sketch of its work. Over the course of the year the Court has considered the issue of people trafficking, given guidance on the use of victim personal statements and, before a specially constituted five judge court, considered the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights in relation to whole life orders.

There are two issues that call for specific mention: the government’s plans for legal aid and filming in court. In response to the Justice Secretary’s “transforming legal aid” consultation the Judicial Executive Board expressed its concern about an increase in unrepresented people which would add to the length and costs of cases. The recent announcement that the plans for price-competitive tendering are to be withdrawn is welcomed. Further, although I am broadly supportive of allowing cameras into court, the process must not be allowed to result in any diminution in the achievement of justice. Fundamental changes always require thought and appropriate consultation. Where fundamental changes affecting the administration of justice are proposed, there must always be an appropriate degree of dialogue between the government and the judiciary. These will be matters for my successor, Lord Thomas, and I wish him well.

Lord Judge
Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales