Law Report: Practice direction on case summaries: Practice Direction: Criminal Appeal Office Summaries

Lord Taylor of Gosforth CJ, said on 1 October 1992 that:

1. For a number of years the Criminal Appeal Office had prepared summaries of cases coming before the Court of Appeal Criminal Division in order to assist the court in its work. Those summaries were objective and did not contain any form of advice as to how the court should deal with a case, or any views on the merits of a case. The facts as outlined in the summary were drawn from material already available to counsel.

2. The summaries as prepared at present were not suitable for disclosure in their entirety to all counsel in a case. That was because they included material which was specific to individual appellants and confidential as between that appellant and the court, which co- appellants or counsel for the Crown were not entitled to know. All summaries written after 1 October 1992 would be in a form which could be disclosed to all parties and, subject to any direction to the contrary in a particular case, would be provided to all counsel.

3. The summaries provided would, in general, consist of: (i) The Crown Court proceedings, including representation. (ii) Present proceedings. (iii) Facts of the case, drawn from transcripts, counsel's advice and/or witness statements. (iv) Submissions and rulings. (v) Directions to the jury. (vi) Details of the co-accused. (vii) The trial judge's sentencing remarks.

4. Counsel should note that factual material in the advice on appeal, if sent to the court, might be used. If counsel did not want that factual material included that should be made clear in the advice.

5. The Criminal Appeal Office would continue to provide the court with material which could not be disclosed to all parties, such as antecedents, reports, and the grounds of appeal, but that material was usually very abbreviated and was solely to draw the court's attention to the existence of the source material. The court always read all the source material and it was open to counsel to draw the court's attention to any matter which might be of particular relevance.

6. The summary was provided only so that counsel knew what material the court had. The contents of the summary were a matter for the professional judgment of the summary writer but counsel wishing to suggest significant alterations should write to the Registrar of Criminal Appeals. If the Registrar did not agree with the suggested changes the letter would be put before the court with the summary. The court would not generally be willing to hear oral argument on the content of summaries.

7. Counsel might show the summary to the professional or lay client (but to no one else) if he or she believed that it would assist in checking facts or formulating arguments but summaries were not to be copied and reproduced without the permission of the Criminal Appeal Office, and permission would not normally be given in cases involving children or sexual offences, or where the Crown Court had made an order restricting reporting.

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