Criminal Procedure (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2021

Time limit for appeal against conviction from a magistrates’ court to the Crown Court – 21.07.21

Rule amendments made by the Criminal Procedure (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2021, SI 2021/849.

The rules now are published here

An announcement appears here

Rule 11(b) of the Amendment Rules amends rule 34.2(2) of the Criminal Procedure Rules to read (here with the amendment marked):

“(2) The appellant must serve the appeal notice—

(a) as soon after the decision appealed against as the appellant wants; but

(b) not more than 15 business days after—

(i) sentence, or the date sentence is deferred or the date of committal for sentence, whichever is earlier, if the appeal is against conviction or against a finding of guilt,

(ii) sentence, if the appeal is against sentence, or

(iii) the order or failure to make an order about which the appellant wants to appeal, in any other  case.”

The ‘Guide’ to the Amendment Rules published here includes this explanation (prepared for a wider audience than legal professionals):

Time limit for appeal from a magistrates’ court to the Crown Court

Under section 108 of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 a defendant may appeal to the Crown Court against conviction or sentence in a magistrates’ court. On an appeal against conviction the Crown Court tries the defendant again and may acquit or convict. On an appeal against sentence the Crown Court passes a fresh sentence, which may be less or more severe. At present the time limit for an appeal against conviction is 15 business days from the date of sentence or from the date on which sentence is deferred (if it is) under sections 4 and 5 of the Sentencing Act 2020, whichever is earlier. Under sections 14 to 17 of the Sentencing Act 2020 a magistrates’ court can commit a convicted defendant to the Crown Court for sentencing instead of passing or deferring sentence itself.

Under rule 34.2 of the Criminal Procedure Rules if a defendant is convicted by a magistrates’ court and committed for sentence to the Crown Court then at present the time limit for appeal against the conviction does not start until the defendant has been sentenced in the Crown Court. That may postpone the appeal unnecessarily. It may result in what turns out to be an unnecessary sentencing in the Crown Court (because the defendant then is acquitted on appeal). In some circumstances it may affect the sentencing powers of the Crown Court on the appeal if the appeal fails. In practice, the Crown Court usually can avoid these potential difficulties by postponing its decision on the committal for sentence until after the appeal against conviction, but only if the defendant decides not to wait until after the sentencing before starting the appeal. The Rule Committee heard from Crown Court judges that it would be more efficient, and fairer both to defendants and witnesses, if the time limit for appeal against conviction were to run from the date of committal for sentence to the Crown Court, where that happens. The Committee agreed and has changed the time limit in the rule.”

Shortly before the rule amendment comes into force on 4th October, 2021, We shall arrange for the notes in the appeal forms here and here to be brought up to date.

View more news