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Courts Act 2003

Criminal jurisdiction and procedure

Section 43: Summons or warrant for suspected offenderSection 44: Trial of summary offences

104.Sections 43 and 44 change the basic jurisdictional provisions on issuing process and dealing with charges, set out in sections 1 and 2 of the MCA 1980. Section 43 will allow any justice to issue a summons requiring a person to appear before a magistrates’ court or a warrant to arrest a person and bring him before a magistrates’ court. In the case of a summons, the summons will state which “court” the person is to appear before. The prosecutor will decide the court in accordance with the directions given by the Lord Chancellor with the concurrence of the Lord Chief Justice, issued under section 30. In the case of a warrant, the person may be brought to whichever court the person arresting the accused considers convenient. Under section 44 a magistrates' court will have jurisdiction to try any summary offence.

105.In addition to giving lay magistrates national jurisdiction in respect of the great majority of criminal cases, the policy of flexibility in the deployment of magistrates is to be implemented by removing many of the statutory provisions limiting their jurisdiction to the particular petty sessions area with which the case has a connection. Nevertheless, it is expected that the Lord Chancellor’s directions will frequently retain the local link in practice. There will also be situations, notably in cases which have already begun, in which the local link will continue to be a requirement.

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