We have a new protocol, ‘Transforming Summary Justice’ in the magistrates’ court.
We learn that there is a new plea and trial preparation hearing at the Crown court which is said to build on this new protocol.
Over recent weeks, my experience in the magistrates’ court has not been encouraging. The prosecutors have been unaware of cases listed in their courts; evidence for the first hearing is unavailable on a frequent basis; and practitioners such as myself have been kept waiting for hours by the Crown to obtain even one sheet of evidence against a defendant – even if he or she is appearing for the first time in custody.
The new protocol suggests that the CPS will serve what is described as a ‘substantial part’ of the prosecution case where the defendant is on bail by the sending hearing in the magistrates’ court, but if in custody no less than seven days before the new ‘plea and trial preparation hearings’. May I remind those who draft these protocols of the biblical injunction that one should not build houses upon sand.
Julian S Linskill, senior partner, Linskills, Liverpool