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Courts Act 2003

Flexibility in deployment of judicial resources

Section 66: Judges having powers of District Judges (Magistrates’ Courts)

160.Under this section a Crown Court judge will be able to make orders and to sentence in relation to cases normally reserved to magistrates’ courts when disposing of related cases in the Crown Court.

161.As part of implementing the policy of greater flexibility in judicial deployment, this section provides that High Court judges, Circuit judges and Recorders should be able to sit as magistrates when exercising their criminal and family jurisdiction. The same is to apply to deputy High Court judges and deputy Circuit judges. It is not expected that extensive use would be made of the provision, but it would be possible for a Circuit judge in the Crown Court to deal with a summary offence without the case having to go back to a magistrates’ court. At present, certain summary offences can be included in an indictment. If the person is convicted on the indictment, the Crown Court may sentence him if he pleads guilty to the summary offence, but if he pleads not guilty the powers of the Crown Court cease. It is intended in such cases that the judge of the Crown Court should be able to deal with the summary offences then and there as a magistrate. He would follow magistrates’ courts’ procedure.

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