Practice and Procedure

R (On the application of PIERENS) v MIDDLESEX GUILDHALL CROWN COURT (2003)

PUBLISHED July 28, 2003

The Crown Court had not erred in holding that in the applicant's case there were good and sufficient reasons to extend the custody time limit.Application for judicial review of the decision of HH Judge Matheson on 13 June 2003 to extend the custody time limit in respect of the applicant ('P'), whose time limit would otherwise have expired on 16 June 2003. P was accused of the fraudulent evasion of duty on goods. P's committal was on 24 April 2002 and he entered a guilty plea on 26 April 2002. Following an adjournment, P changed his plea to not guilty on 16 July 2002. There followed a number of applications by P to adjourn the trial, principally, so that witnesses could be sought from abroad and letters of request to other countries could be sent. There was a further period of delay between 15 April 2003 and 21 May 2003 ("the immediate delay"), which was attributable to administrative error by the Court Service. On the instant application, P argued that: (i) the district judge had erred in taking into account the entirety of the delay; (ii) the judge should have taken into account only the immediate delay; and (iii) since the immediate delay had been caused by the administrative error of the Court Service, it could not constitute a "good and sufficient cause" to grant an extension of the custody time limit within the meaning of s.22(3) Prosecution of Offences Act 1985.HELD: (1) The district judge had not erred. Whilst the court would be slow to prescribe a general rule, in many cases it would be right to take into account the entirety of any proceedings and the instant case was a stark example of the need to do so. The immediate delay had been relatively small in the context of the entirety of the proceedings. Most of the rest of the delay had been caused by P's change of plea and, without any fault on P's part, the search for witnesses and the letters of request. In those circumstances, it had been open to the district judge to hold that there was a good and sufficient cause for the extension. (2) Moreover, the judge had taken into account the delay by the Court Service and its effect. (3) Since there were no matters that the judge had failed to take into account and the decision was one within the range of decisions open to him, it was not one that was liable to be quashed.Application refused.