Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED October 6, 2003

The youth court had been correct to lift reporting restrictions upon the conviction of the appellant in respect of proceedings that had commenced prior to the appellant attaining the age of 18 years but that were completed after he had attained the age of 18 years.Appeal by way of case stated against the decision of the youth court on 16 April 2003 that s.49 Children and Young Persons Act 1933 ceased to be applicable once the appellant ('T') had reached the age of 18 years on the basis that he then no longer fell within the definition of a "young person" in s.107 of the Act. On 29 June 2002, T, who was 17 years old, was charge with an offence under s.20 Offences Against the Person Act 1861. T appeared in the youth court on 4 July 2002 and subsequently entered a not guilty plea on 9 October 2002 on the basis that the Crown would not accept his assertion that he had had no intent to cause injury. On 12 October 2002, T attained the age of 18 years and his trial took place on 21 March 2003 when the Crown accepted his guilty plea on the basis of a lack of intent to cause injury. On 16 April 2003, he was sentenced to a four month detention and training order. On the same date the youth court lifted reporting restrictions that had been imposed under s.49 of the 1933 Act on the basis that as T was 18 years of age he was no longer a "young person" within the meaning in s.107 of the Act. On appeal T argued that: (i) the proceedings against him were a continuum rather than a single hearing and since they had begun when he was only 17 years old s.49 of the 1933 Act should apply throughout those proceedings; (ii) that argument reflected national practice; (iii) the provisions of the forthcoming Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 explicitly stated that the automatic prohibition on identification would only apply until a young person reached the age of 18 years and it was clear that that represented a change in the existing law; (iv) international law clearly protected the interests of children and young persons during the course of proceedings against them; and (v) the decision of the youth court had led to the publication of his name in various newspapers, which publication constituted an interference with his rights under Art.8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.HELD: (1) There was a balance to be struck between full and fair reporting and the protection of the interests of young persons. Views varied as to when a young person became an adult and that decision was a matter for individual states. Accordingly, the provisions of international and human rights law were of little assistance and the matter was one that could only be determined by reference to domestic law. (2) The purpose of the domestic legislation was not to protect the interests of young persons after they had ceased to become young persons and accordingly reporting restrictions only applied as long as the individual concerned remained a young person. Whilst T had been a young person when he had first come before the court, he was now 18 years of age and there was no longer any reason for those restrictions to continue. (3) Further, the restrictions were required to be construed narrowly against the general freedom to report proceedings. That construction was not assisted by reference to the 1999 Act as there was nothing to indicate that it was intended to do anything other than bring about consistency across the legislation generally. (4) Moreover, to continue to apply restrictions to persons reaching the age of 18 would require a strained interpretation of the 1933 Act since the Act referred to restrictions on identifying schools and applied to witnesses as well as defendants. T's interpretation would leave lacunae in that Act. (5) In any event, there were no difficulties in keeping a defendant's age under review during the course of proceedings in order to determine whether restrictions should continue. (6) In all those circumstances the youth court had been correct to lift the restrictions.Appeal dismissed.