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Access to Justice Act 1999

C.Appeals, courts, judges and court proceedings (Part IV - sections 54-73)

15.Part IV of the Act reforms the system for appeals in civil and family cases. It:

  • establishes the principles that should underlie the jurisdiction of the civil courts to hear appeals;

  • gives the Lord Chancellor power to define the venue for appeal in different categories of case; and

  • changes the law relating to the constitution of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal.

The intention is to ensure that the appellate system reflects the principle, which underlies the Government’s wider programme of civil justice reforms, that cases should be dealt with in a way that is proportionate to the issue at stake.

16.Part IV also confirms the powers of the High Court when hearing cases stated by the Crown Court for an opinion of the High Court. It enables these and certain other applications to the High Court to be heard by a single judge. It empowers the Crown Court, rather than a magistrates’ court, to deal with breaches of community sentences imposed by the Crown Court, and changes the law about time limits when a defendant is sent directly to the Crown Court for trial. It provides for the secondment of UK judges to international courts and establishes the post of Vice-President of the Queen’s Bench Division. It eliminates duplication between a public inquiry into a disaster and the inquest into the deaths. It prohibits the publication of material likely to identify a child involved in proceedings under the Children Act 1989 before the High Court or a county court; and allows for children under 14 to attend criminal trials.

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