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Court Users Update from the VPCACD

PUBLISHED February 21, 2024

We have received this from the Criminal Appeal Office,  Royal Courts of Justice

Lord Justice Holroyde, Vice-President of the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division, has recently chaired a meeting of judges of the CACD and has given advice on

Sentences of Life Imprisonment with minimum terms

  • When a life sentence is imposed, the precise determination of the minimum term is a judicial function.
  • As R v Cookson [2023] EWCA Crim 10 confirms,  the sentencer is required to reduce the length of the minimum term by the number of days spent in custody on remand.
  • Again as Cookson confirms, judges may either carry out the arithmetic themselves and pronounce the minimum term after deduction of the appropriate number of days on remand, or pronounce the minimum term and declare the number of days to be deducted therefrom (leaving others to carry out the arithmetic).
  • It is however recommended that the former course should be adopted; with the assistance of counsel at the sentencing hearing, the judge should identify the number of days to be deducted, carry out the necessary arithmetic, and pronounce the minimum term after deduction of the days on remand.
  • For that reason, counsel on both sides must ensure they are in a position to assist the judge with the relevant number of days and with confirmation of the necessary arithmetic.
  • Please note the arithmetic of the determination cannot be completed administratively. If any error is made e.g. as to number of days or the calculation, it will have to be corrected under the slip rule: administrative amendment is not permissible.

In other news:

Remote attendance/observation forms

Many of you who have appeared in the CACD recently will be aware that practitioners are required to complete application forms which can be found at Procedure Rules and Practice Directions for the Court of Appeal - Courts and Tribunals Judiciary. The VPCACD and Registrar would like to highlight that remote appearance or observation is governed by statute and that there are different considerations when dealing with a request, not least that the power to grant is not the same in both cases. The forms have been introduced to regularise the process with the aim of improving efficiency of dealing with the requests in a prompt and timely manner. Practitioners are requested to lodge forms as soon as possible and are reminded that late applications can cause logistical difficulty and so should note that there is a cut off day and time for applications.

Guide to Proceedings in the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division - Courts and Tribunals Judiciary has been updated to reflect the remote attendance forms and some other general updates and clarifications. For ease the guide now has a page outlining changes and dates of updates. The current edition is January 2024 (those eagle eyed observers will note that the changes are as at December 2023). Practitioners are advised to book mark the link above so that the current edition will always be available for use.