Practice and Procedure

R (On the application of KENDELL) v SELBY MAGISTRATES (2003)

PUBLISHED November 13, 2003

The magistrates court had in the circumstances of the present case acted in the interests of justice in ordering a retrial.Application by the claimant ('K') for judicial review of the decision of Selby Magistrates' Court sitting at York on 24 March 2003 to discharge themselves from returning a verdict in a trial of K and ordering that there be a retrial before a new bench on a date to be fixed. K had stood trial on 14 March 2003 on a number of motoring offences. The trial once commenced was adjourned and eventually continued over two days rather than the estimated one. The principal issue at the trial was one of identification. The main prosecution witnesses were all members of the same family all of whom gave evidence at the trial. By 24 March 2003, the trial was unfinished. Legal representatives from both parties were unable to attend on the following day and the magistrates' court was unable to continue to hear the trial for quite a number of weeks after 25 March 2003. The magistrates' court decided that the matter could be heard afresh and it would not be an abuse of process, nor would K be disadvantaged by a retrial and ordered a retrial. On this application K argued that: (i) the magistrates' court order was a case management decision taken within the ambit of the discretion in which it was obliged to consider all relevant circumstances in particular the interests of justice and that it had failed to do so; (ii) in the present case there was a danger that the prosecution witnesses could give their evidence more firmly at any retrial and that prejudiced K.HELD: (1) A magistrates' court's power to adjourn a case under s.10 Magistrates Court Act 1980 had to be exercised in the interests of justice and not for any frivolous or irrelevant reason (R v Ripon Liberty Magistrates' Court ex parte Buggy (1990) 55 JP 213 followed). The magistrates had exercised their power in the interests of justice and had specifically addressed any disadvantages to K and had in the circumstances of the case properly concluded that there was no significant disadvantage in ordering a retrial. (2) There had been a clear written note taken of the evidence of the prosecution witnesses at the trial. Any inconsistencies in the evidence that they gave at the trial or any subsequent retrial could be clearly identified.Application refused.