Thursday 16 December 2010

Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) Report 2009-10

Essential reading for the criminal lawyer or student of criminal law has to be the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) Annual Report 2009-10 published today 16th December - see Judiciary website and a pdf version here.   This is no dry as dust statistical summary of the court's work.

The report commences with the Lord Chief Justice bewailing the "impenetrable legislation" with which he and his fellow judges have to contend.  In saying this, one feels sure that he speaks for numerous practising lawyers.  Parliament really does need to take note since such legislation is resulting in considerable costs arising from appeals.  The Lord Chief Justice also anticipates that the court will have to rule on the interpetation of the amended law relating to the partial defence of "loss of control" in murder cases.  This new partial defence replaced that of provocation - see Law and Lawyers 2nd October 2010

Chapter 3 deals with the court's principal decided cases for the year and,
for each of the cases referred to, there is a masterly summary of the decided law.  Numerous cases are referred to and it is noted that 13 cases were heard by a five judge consitution of the court - e.g. R v Magro and others [2010] EWCA Crim 1575 which looks at confiscation orders and also the question of judicial precedent relating to a five judge court.  A considerable number of cases wrestled with the evidential problems of bad character and hearsay as well as evidence of anonymous witnesses, young children and "Achieving Best Evidence" interviews.  Other cases looked at the vexed question of joint enterprise and one such case - Gnango - is headed for the Supreme Court of the U.K.   Yet another case was the important "Shaken Baby Syndrome" case of Henderson which Law and Lawyers looked at earlier this year.  Numerous decisions deal with sentencing and the main cases are looked at it in Chapter 3.

Chapter 4 looks at other types of appeal such as appeals against interlocutory orders made during preliminary hearings in the Crown Court.    An example of such an appeal is J, S and M v R [2010] EWCA Crim 1755  in which a trial judge ruled that a trial be held by judge alone and see also KS v R [2010] EWCA Crim 1756. Such "other types of appeal" are a growing part of the court's business.

Chapter 5 looks at the role of the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

It is also interesting to note how the court is using technology more and more to assist its workload - e.g. use of live link under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 s. 110.  

A very useful and impressive report which is replete with essential information and it should be of exceptional assistance both to the practitioner and student alike.

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