The Criminal Procedure Rule Committee are reviewing the position in relation to initial disclosure in the Magistrates? Court. This follows proposals by defence organisations that the Criminal Procedure Rules are amended so that in certain circumstances the defence can insist on disclosure prior to the date of hearing. In relation to this they are anxious that the Crown are notified of any particular regions/courts where there are particular problems with prompt service of papers and in particular where such problems result in delays in disposal of cases. Does any of the following apply to you or your firm in the area that you practise?

  1. Can you get initial disclosure before the first hearing at your local Court if you request it in advance?
  2. Is initial disclosure available first thing when you arrive at Court on the morning of the hearing or is there often a wait because the papers have not arrived at Court?
  3. Is there someone from the prosecution present who you can discuss the case with a view to making progress and perhaps even agree acceptable pleas?
  4. Are the contents of initial disclosure sufficient?

Paul Harris the solicitor representative on the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee is able to liaise directly with the CPS officer who is responsible for addressing regions with particular problems. However, he needs specific examples to submit. For once the defence community do appear to have the ear and sympathy of the senior judiciary in this matter, and we should take this opportunity to provide information of problems from wherever in the country which can then be taken back to the Crown at a senior level and then the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee. The Crown has indicated that where appropriate they will take practical steps to address Courts where there are obvious problems.  So please contact Paul at paulh@efbw.co.uk with any examples.

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