Please see below for information in relation the use of Digital Bundles in the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division).
Since March 2020 the Criminal Appeal Office has been providing the judiciary with digital bundles by making use of the Crown Court Digital Case System (DCS).
Many regular CACD advocates will have some experience of these digital bundles. The CAO continues to provide an index to the judges’ bundles in Word format. In a digital bundle, each item on the index is in fact then a hyperlink to the relevant document on DCS. Opening the hyperlink will take the user directly to the DCS platform and the document will appear.
To achieve this the CAO creates two additional sections on the existing DCS record. CACD1 and CACD2. CACD1 is for sharing documents with the parties and the judiciary and CACD2 is for sharing material with judges only. The CAO will upload material into these two sections and create hyperlinks to the material. Additionally the CAO will upload transcripts into the existing Section Y.
Further hyperlinks will be created to material already on DCS – such as opening notes, PSRs, antecedents.
The combination of material from the new sections and the existing sections, provides for all material to be referred to in digital format.
In multi-handed cases CACD1 is configured so that defence advocates only have access to documents relevant to their client. There are also some “old style” multi handed cases in which each defendant has their own record and a consolidated record exists for shared material. The CAO will create a CACD1 for each defendant, who appeals, again to ensure that there is no inadvertent wrong access.
Advocates will be able to access all of this material via their existing DCS access. Fresh representatives will be invited into cases as necessary by the CAO.
Not only does this reduce reliance on hard copy bundles, it also provides for more convenient access to appeal documents. To facilitate the use of digital bundles during a hearing, there is WiFi in all of the CACD courtrooms at the Royal Courts of Justice. This is the Professional Court User (PCU) WiFi.
Advocates are not permitted to upload any further material to DCS after the conclusion of the trial. At the appeal stage only the CAO is permitted to upload. The existing DCS folders make up the formal Crown Court record and should not be varied in any way. Additionally, DCS is not a method of service that is recognised by the CAO. Advocates should continue to serve documents directly to the CAO.
Amendments are being proposed to the Criminal Procedure Rules and Criminal Practice Direction which will require that parties should lodge material electronically wherever possible by hyperlinking, within the grounds of appeal, to any relevant material that is on DCS. It is hoped that this will reduce the need to provide appendices such as Opening Notes, Defence Statements etc, which already exist online.
Hyperlinks can be generated when reviewing the evidence. DCS guidance explains how to create the link: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/729013/QRG16_Additional_review_tools.pdf
New appeals must not however be uploaded to DCS by the parties – there is separate guidance available on the Criminal Procedure Rules as to how to lodge an appeal (http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/criminal).
Not all Crown Court cases are on DCS. In these cases the CAO will make use of internal IT systems to share documents electronically with the judiciary, or provide paper bundles in exceptional circumstances. In those circumstances advocates will still be provided with an index and can request copies of any material from the Criminal Appeal Office.
There is also a forthcoming change to the way that authorities are lodged and amended rules will state that in all cases authorities must be lodged electronically. Where a party proposes to rely on more than 2 authorities then these must be lodged as a composite pdf bundle with bookmarks created for each case cited.
The Registrar and the Vice-President of the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) wish to continue developing the use of digital bundles and would appreciate any comments or feedback on the provision of material in this way. Please direct any feedback/comments to Chris Williams (Senior Legal Manager) Christopher.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chantelle Magrath | Lawyer | Room C327 | Criminal Appeal Office | Royal Courts of Justice |London WC2A 2LL | Telephone: 020 7947 6052 | DX 44450 Strand