Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED January 16, 2003

A delay of three years before a simple case of motoring offences was brought to trial was a violation of the reasonable time requirement for a fair trial within Art.6 European Convention on Human Rights.Application for judicial review of the decision of 8th May 2002 by the District Judge at Birmingham Magistrates Court that criminal proceedings in respect of various motoring offences should not be stayed on grounds that there was a violation of the reasonable time requirement for a fair trial under Art.6 European Convention on Human Rights. The proceedings began on 24 July 1999. Summons were issued on four occasions but in each case, through no fault of the applicant's, not to the correct address. On 24 July 2002 action was finally taken when a warrant for the applicant's arrest, not backed for bail, was issued. The district judge split the delay into three periods, which were considered separately, and concluded that although there had been some delay in one of the periods, the prosecution had been active and for the remaining time had conscientiously attempted to locate the summons and secure the applicant's attendance at court. Accordingly, there had been no violation of the reasonable time requirement under Art.6 of the Convention.HELD: (1) The district judge had erred in considering the delay in three separate periods. The entire three year period of delay should have been considered, which delay was long and unusual. (2) The prosecution had not actively pursued the case and the district judge would not have reached the generous conclusion that they had conscientiously tried to locate the summons' and bring the applicant to court if he had had sight of the papers available at the present hearing.Application granted. District Judge's decision quashed.