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Courts Act 2003

Provisions relating to criminal procedure and appeals

Prosecution appeals from Court of Appeal

209.The Act amends section 2 of the Administration of Justice Act 1960 and section 34 of the CAA 1968 by extending the time in which an application by either the defence or the prosecution for leave to appeal from a decision of the Court of Appeal Criminal Division can be made. It also makes clear that time begins to run against either the prosecution or the defendant from the date of the Court of Appeal’s reasoned judgment, rather than from the date of the Court’s decision. The Act makes provision with the same effect in relation to Northern Ireland by amending paragraph 1 of Schedule 1 to the Judicature (Northern Ireland) Act 1978 and section 32 of the Criminal Appeal (Northern Ireland) Act 1980.

210.The Auld Review recommended that section 34(2) of the CAA 1968 should be amended to empower the House of Lords and Court of Appeal, as the case may be, to extend the time within which a prosecutor may apply for leave to appeal, as it does in the case of a defendant.

211.There is a disparity between a defendant and a prosecutor as to the operation of the time limits within which each may petition the House of Lords for leave to appeal where the Court of Appeal, having certified a point of law of general public importance, has refused leave. Both have 14 days from the decision of the Court of Appeal to apply to it for leave and, if leave is refused by the Court, a further 14 days from the date of refusal to petition the House of Lords. Whilst the House or the Court have power at any time to extend a defendant’s time for application for leave, neither has power to do so if the prosecutor wishes leave but fails to apply within time. The Act will now give both the defence and the prosecution an extra 14 days. However, it was not considered appropriate to accept the recommendation that the prosecution should be able to apply for an extension of time – this would leave a defendant with the indefinite possibility of the original conviction being restored by the House of Lords.

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