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Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1991

Status:

This is the original version (as it was originally enacted).

Time limits on preliminary proceedings

8Power of Secretary of State to set time limits in relation to preliminary proceedings for scheduled offences

(1)The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision, with respect to any specified preliminary stage of proceedings for a scheduled offence, as to the maximum period—

(a)to be allowed to the prosecution to complete that stage;

(b)during which the accused may, while awaiting completion of that stage, be—

(i)in the custody of a magistrates' court; or

(ii)in the custody of the Crown Court,

in relation to that offence.

(2)The regulations may, in particular—

(a)provide for—

(i)the [S.I. 1981/1675 (N.I. 26).] Magistrates' Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981,

(ii)section 3 above, or

(iii)any other enactment, or any rule of law, relating to bail,

to apply in relation to cases to which custody or overall time limits apply subject to such modifications as may be specified (being modifications which the Secretary of State considers necessary in consequence of any provision made by the regulations);

(b)provide for time limits imposed by the regulations to cease to have effect in cases where, after the institution of proceedings for a scheduled offence, the Attorney General for Northern Ireland has certified that the offence in question is not to be treated as a scheduled offence;

(c)make such provision with respect to the procedure to be followed in criminal proceedings as the Secretary of State considers appropriate in consequence of any other provision of the regulations; and

(d)make such transitional provision in relation to proceedings instituted before the commencement of any provision of the regulations as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.

(3)Where separate counts of an indictment allege a scheduled offence and an offence which is not a scheduled offence, then (subject to, and in accordance with, the provisions of the regulations) the regulations shall have effect in relation to the latter offence as if it were a scheduled offence.

(4)The Crown Court may, at any time before the expiry of a time limit imposed by the regulations, extend, or further extend, that limit if it is satisfied—

(a)that there is good and sufficient cause for doing so; and

(b)that the prosecution has acted with all due expedition.

(5)Where, in relation to any proceedings for a relevant offence, an overall time limit has expired before the completion of the stage of the proceedings to which the limit applies, the accused shall be treated, for all purposes, as having been acquitted of that offence.

(6)Where—

(a)a person escapes from the custody of a magistrates' court or of the Crown Court before the expiry of a custody time limit which applies in his case; or

(b)a person who has been released on bail in consequence of the expiry of a custody time limit—

(i)fails to surrender himself into the custody of the court at the appointed time; or

(ii)is arrested by a constable in connection with any breach, or apprehended breach, of any condition of his bail,

the regulations shall, so far as they provide for any custody time limit in relation to the preliminary stage in question, be disregarded.

(7)Where—

(a)a person escapes from the custody of a magistrates' court or of the Crown Court; or

(b)a person who has been released on bail fails to surrender himself into the custody of the court at the appointed time,

the overall time limit which applies in his case in relation to the stage which the proceedings have reached at the time of the escape or, as the case may be, at the appointed time shall, so far as the relevant offence in question is concerned, cease to have effect.

(8)Where a person is convicted of a relevant offence in any proceedings, the exercise, in relation to any preliminary stage of those proceedings, of the power conferred by subsection (4) above shall not be called into question on any appeal against that conviction.

(9)In this section—

  • “custody of the Crown Court” includes custody to which a person is committed in pursuance of—

    (a)

    Article 37 or 40(4) of the [S.I. 1981/1675 (N.I. 26).] Magistrates' Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 (magistrates' court committing accused for trial); or

    (b)

    section 51(8) of the [1978 c. 23.] Judicature (Northern Ireland) Act 1978 (magistrates' court dealing with a person brought before it following his arrest in pursuance of a warrant issued by the Crown Court);

  • “custody of a magistrates' court” means custody to which a person is committed in pursuance of Article 47 or 49 of the Magistrates' Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 (remand);

  • “custody time limit” means a time limit imposed by the regulations in pursuance of subsection (1)(b) above or, where any such limit has been extended by the Crown Court under subsection (4) above, the limit as so extended;

  • “preliminary stage”, in relation to any proceedings, does not include any stage of the proceedings after the accused has been arraigned in the Crown Court or, in the case of a summary trial, the magistrates' court has begun to hear evidence for the prosecution at the trial;

  • “overall time limit” means a time limit imposed by the regulations in pursuance of subsection (1)(a) above or, where any such limit has been extended by the Crown Court under subsection (4) above, the limit as so extended;

  • “relevant offence” means—

    (a)

    a scheduled offence, or

    (b)

    an offence in relation to which the regulations have effect in accordance with subsection (3) above; and

  • “specified” means specified in the regulations.

(10)For the purposes of the application of any custody time limit in relation to a person who is in the custody of a magistrates' court or of the Crown Court—

(a)all periods during which he is in the custody of a magistrates' court in respect of the same offence shall be aggregated and treated as a single continuous period; and

(b)all periods during which he is in the custody of the Crown Court in respect of the same offence shall be aggregated and treated similarly.

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