Practice and Procedure

R (On the application of H) v BALHAM YOUTH COURT (2003)

PUBLISHED December 10, 2003

The youth court had erred in committing the claimant to trial on indictment when the charge could be dealt with summarily and the court should have reopened its decision as to mode of trial under s.25(2) Magistrates Court Act 1980.Application for judicial review of the decisions of Balham Youth Court, ('the BYC') to decline jurisdiction and commit the claimant ('C'), to the Crown Court for trial on indictment. C who was 15 years old appeared before the BYC on 3 March 2003 charged with two counts of robbery. Both counts involved the alleged robbery of mobile phones, but the second count had a racial element. On 18 March 2003 the mode of trial was determined and the BYC declined jurisdiction under s. 24(1)(a) Magistrates Courts Act 1980. On 22 April H was committed for trial on indictment on the first count only, the charge on the second count having being dropped. C sought to have the decision of the BYC to commit him for trial on indictment quashed. C submitted that: (i) the decision to commit him for trial on 22 April 2003 after the discharge of the more serious offence without a fresh mode of trial hearing; and (ii) the decision to decline summary jurisdiction on 18 March were Wednesbury unreasonable.HELD: (1) The decision of the BYC should be quashed and C should be tried summarily. Under s.25(2) Magistrates Court Act 1980, the BYC had the power to reopen its decisions as to mode of trial and should in the circumstances of the case have exercised that power and dealt with C summarily. (2) Once the more serious charge was dropped it was unreasonable to commit C for trial on indictment. (R (On the application of C) v Balham Youth Court (2003) Crim LR 636; R (On the application of Director of Public Prosecutions) v Camberwell Green Youth Court (2003) LTL 5/12/2003 considered).Application allowed. Remitted to youth court for trial.