Re: Westminster Case Management Project
I am pleased to inform you of a new initiative being launched on 7th January 2019 as set out in the attached letter.
Many of us complain about the difficulties that we have when directions are not complied with in respect of summary trials. It is often hard to get any response from the Crown or speak to anyone at the court who will assist.
This scheme will enable us in the cases captured by the project to be able to write to a dedicated team responsible for case managing these cases at a dedicated email address in order to raise noncompliance issues etc. As the letter sets out there will also be a District Judge supervising the scheme.
This should hopefully make a substantial difference in case management being effective outside court. The whole purpose of the initiative is to ensure that in so far as possible many outstanding issues re case management/disclosure are resolved proactively well in advance of any trial.
For this to work, we need to support this scheme which ultimately will assist in case preparation and in holding the Crown to account.
I look forward to receiving feedback. If effective it may well be expanded
RE; THE CASE MANAGEMENT PROJECT
The Central Local Justice Area (i.e. Westminster, City of London and Hendon Magistrates’ Courts) is about to begin a project aimed at enhancing the case management of trials where the defendant first appears as an overnight custody or in a GAP court, and pleads not guilty. In both instances there is an increased risk that the summary trial will be ineffective compared to those listed in the NGAP court as a result of the full file not being available to allow full case management at the first hearing. In addition, all excess alcohol trials will be case managed in the same manner, including those where the defendant first appears in an NGAP court. The project will start on 7 January 2019.
The Project is designed to help you by allowing you to raise and resolve case management issues electronically rather than requiring you to attend at court with the consequential wasted time and costs for you.
Where a qualifying case is listed for trial Deana Smith, a legal adviser, will take responsibility for managing it in accordance with Rule 3.5 of the Criminal Procedure Rules, with the assistance of District Judge Snow. A dedicated email address has been set up which is to be used by the parties to contact the court in relation to a relevant trial. That email address MUST not be used to contact the court for any other purpose. The email address is: Westminster.CaseManagement@justice.gov.uk the subject header MUST read: “Westminster Court Request” followed by the URN and the defendant’s name and the trial date.
The court has a dedicated email address for communication with the CPS. Both the CPS and the court will respond to emails within two working days.
There should not be a significant difference in how the parties progress the case. They will be expected to notify the court of any significant failure to take a procedural step which may hinder the court in furthering the overriding objective in accordance with Rule 1.2. They must also actively assist the court in managing the case by communicating with each other and the court until the conclusion of it in accordance with Rule 3.3. If, for example, evidence or disclosure is not served in a timely fashion, they are expected to email the court in good time before the trial to put it on notice and seek appropriate directions. The essential difference is that, for relevant trials, such communications will be dealt with by the named legal adviser or one of the case progression officers working with her through the dedicated email address given above.
The court may also undertake a pre-trial readiness check, by telephone or email, if it deems it necessary.
The intention is not to increase the number of court hearings as the expectation is that directions will be dealt with outside court unless it is really necessary to list the case for a mention. Where it is, every effort will be made for it to be dealt with by telephone rather than by listing the case in a courtroom.
A baseline is being established against which to judge the impact of this intervention. If it is seen to make little or no difference to the effective and ineffective trial rates, a decision may be made to terminate the project. If however the anticipated improvements emerge then it is likely that this will be adopted permanently within the Central Local Justice Area and may also be rolled out within Greater London.