The Lord Chief Justice (pictured) has issued amendments to the Criminal Practice Directions. This is the eighth amendment to the Criminal Practice Directions 2015 and came into force on 1 April 2019.
The most significant change for magistrates – described by the Lord Chief Justice as 'essential reading to all those who sit on the bench, provide legal advice or appear in the magistrates' courts' – relates to trial management. The new practice direction has been issued to provide an authoritative direction for the magistrates' courts when dealing with applications to adjourn trial hearings, either on the day of the trial itself or prior to that hearing as an application to vacate. It consolidates the existing case law and provides comprehensive guidance to courts and practitioners in dealing with these decisions.
In addition, a new paragraph has been introduced that encapsulates the status of the Criminal Procedure Rules and the Criminal Practice Directions. It has been included to help, the Lord Chief Justice says, to 'focus the minds of those appearing in the criminal courts as to the importance in adherence to the rules and practice directions'. The Lord Chief Justice also notes that his office has made 'considerable efforts to make the directions more accessible and user-friendly' and that there will soon be a criminal procedure icon on ejudiciary and on court iPads.
Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Rules, available here, also came into force on 1 April 2019. Among other changes, they enable the publication of court lists of Single Justice Procedure proceedings.