The importance of the work done in this Court can be summarised very simply. It is there to ensure that so far as humanly possible convictions which are unsafe are set aside, and sentences which are either manifestly excessive or unduly lenient are corrected. Convictions which are safe and sentences which are appropriate must be upheld. That simple summary of the objective of this Court reveals its importance, and the high level of responsibility which all who work in the Court, whether in the office or in the Court itself, must carry.
During the last year something has been seen of the introduction of live text-based communications in the criminal courts. I shall shortly publish my conclusions to the responses to the wide consultation process about the continuing use of live text-based communications. However, modern technology does not come without risks. I remain concerned at the ease with which a member of the jury can, by disobeying the judge’s instructions, discover material which purports to contain accurate information relevant to an individual case or an individual defendant. I am also concerned that the use of technology enables those who are not members of the jury to communicate, in both directions. In the context of current technology, we must be astute to preserve the integrity of jury trial and the jury system.
Despite their own individual workloads in managing the office, Susan Holdham and Alix Beldam have dedicated their own time to the production of a new book entitled “The Court of Appeal Criminal Division: A Practitioner’s Guide” which provides detailed practical guidance on the appeal process. The work will be published in the near future. I have no doubt that it will be of great value to practitioners and indeed anyone seeking to use the Court.