A magistrates’ court had been unreasonable in refusing to adjourn a sexual assault trial after five members of the complainant’s family were killed in an accident the night before the trial. The circumstances were exceptional and the court reiterated the careful approach to adjournment applications set out in Crown Prosecution Service v Picton [2006] EWHC 1108 (Admin).

A district judge had been entitled to refuse to adjourn a part-heard trial on the basis of evidence from a GP which suggested that the defendants were suffering from stress, depression and insomnia following the suicide of a co-defendant. It had not been unreasonable or incorrect to conclude that the medical evidence did not demonstrate unfitness to stand trial.

A magistrates’ court had erred in adjourning a trial at the CPS’s request where it did not have sufficient information to consider important factors concerning the merits of granting or refusing an adjournment in accordance with Crown Prosecution Service v Picton [2006] EWHC 1108 (Admin).

[2017] EWHC 2828 (Admin)

A magistrates’ court had erred in deciding to adjourn a trial for drink driving where the defendant was ready to proceed but where the prosecution had failed to warn a relevant witness who did not appear before the court as a result.

It was appropriate to proceed with a claimant’s committal application in a defendant’s absence where the breaches were serious and the defendant had deliberately chosen not to attend court and left the jurisdiction. Contempt of court was proved to the criminal standard, and he was sentenced to one years’ imprisonment.

A district judge had been entitled to revisit and reverse a decision made the previous day to vacate a trial on the prosecution’s application where that application had been misleading.

[2017] EWHC 1070 (Admin)

An applicant who had escaped from lawful custody in Ireland and whose extradition had been ordered under a European Arrest Warrant was granted an adjournment of his renewed application to appeal in order to obtain new legal representation. His existing solicitors had only said the previous day that they were coming off the record, there were three-and-a-half years of his sentence outstanding and he would be eligible for parole in about two weeks.

A conviction for harassment imposed in the defendant’s absence was overturned where his non-attendance was the fault of his solicitors, and where the decision to proceed in his absence had been made on the erroneous assumption that his solicitors were in a position to cross-examine the complainant before legal aid had been granted.

[2016] EWHC 3520 (Admin)

A magistrates’ court had exercised its discretion reasonably in refusing to adjourn a trial, to exclude evidence, or to recuse itself, after an Achieving Best Evidence video had only been disclosed to the defendant on the day of the trial. The magistrates had taken steps to ensure that the defendant had time to consider the evidence, and they could be trusted to exclude from their deliberations any inadmissible material arising from the video.

A district judge had not erred in ordering the extradition of an acknowledged fugitive to Poland to face prosecution for an offence of blackmail. Despite there being a lengthy delay in seeking the extradition due to the suspension of the prosecution case, the bar to extradition in the Extradition Act 2003 s.14 was not satisfied as the fugitive had known throughout that the prosecution was merely suspended and not concluded.

[2016] EWHC 3244 (Admin)

A district judge’s refusal to adjourn a trial days before it was listed was Wednesbury unreasonable where the decision was made in the absence of relevant evidence. A renewed application for an adjournment on the morning of the trial with the benefit of the missing evidence should have been dealt with as though the magistrates were in the judge’s position days earlier, and without taking the presence of witnesses into account. The decision to proceed in the accused person’s absence and her subsequent conviction were quashed and a new trial was ordered.

Where a defendant faced two charges which were properly characterised as alternatives, there should not be findings of guilt on both charges. If a finding of guilt had been made on a racially or religiously aggravated offence, it was not therefore open to a magistrates’ court to make a finding of guilt on an underlying offence. In such a case, the sensible course was to adjourn the trial of the underlying offence sine die as it would be open to the Crown Court to convict on the underlying offence following a rehearing.

[2016] EWHC 464 (Admin)

A judge had been entitled to stay criminal proceedings, thus terminating the prosecution, where the defendant had required special measures in order for a fair trial to be possible but the court had failed to put the measures in place.

[2016] EWCA Crim 390

The Extradition Act 2003 s.12A did not bar an individual’s extradition to Germany even though no formal decision to charge or try him had been taken; that formal stage did not exist in German criminal proceedings. The evidence showed that the sole reason that there had been no charge was his absence from Germany and that he would be charged and tried once there.

[2016] EWHC 400 (Admin)

A magistrates’ court had been wrong to refuse the Crown’s application for an adjournment where its witnesses had not attended because it had been informed that the trial was listed for pre-trial review and not for trial. The court had not enquired about whether it would have been possible to re-fix the trial date shortly afterwards.

A hearing before a district judge in respect of an alleged breach of police bail constituted a “proceeding” for the purposes of the general power to adjourn under the Magistrates’ Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 art.161.

A judge had not erred in ordering the extradition of a British national to Spain to stand trial for a drug offence. He rightly concluded that extradition was not incompatible with ECHR art.8 and that the proportionality test under the Extradition Act 2003 s.21A had been met. Nor had he erred in refusing an oral application made at the final hearing to adjourn the case under s.21B.

[2015] EWHC 3466 (Admin)

There had been no reasonable basis for a judge to adjourn a criminal trial in circumstances where it appeared that the CPS had done nothing to prepare for trial and had offered no explanation for what had gone wrong in its preparation of the case for trial. The Crown should not think that it would always be granted at least one adjournment.

A magistrates’ court had been entitled to determine a trial in a defendant’s absence and to subsequently refuse that the case be reheard. Under the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 s.11, proceeding in a defendant’s absence was the default position where the defendant knew he had to attend trial and there had been no good reason for his failure to attend. Pursuant to s.142(2), the court could only reopen a case in very limited circumstances.

A magistrates’ court had been entitled to refuse to adjourn an offender’s trial, pursuant to its discretionary powers under the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 s.10(1), so that a police officer’s notebook could be produced. The offender could have a fair trial without the disclosure of the contents of the notebook.

A conviction for wounding with intent was safe where an offender had run a defence of self-induced automatism and the judge had refused a defence application for an adjournment to obtain expert evidence about the effect that a combination of drugs and alcohol had had on the offender. The defence of automatism was not available to an offender who had induced a state of automatism through their own fault.

An individual’s appeal against his extradition to France pursuant to a conviction warrant was adjourned pending a statement from the requesting authority confirming that he would have the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses at a retrial, and indicating its stance towards bail pending the retrial.

[2015] EWHC 3030 (Admin)

A conviction for sexual assault was safe where a judge had refused to grant an adjournment to allow the defence time to contact a witness mentioned by the victim for the first time in her evidence in chief. Instead the judge had admitted hearsay evidence which contradicted the victim’s evidence.

A refusal to vacate a trial date for an alleged assault was quashed in order to allow a claimant-accused an opportunity to adduce expert evidence. The claimant had put forward cogent reasons for the evidence, and it had not been for the magistrates to say in advance that it would not be useful.

[2015] EWHC 2454 (Admin)

A judge had been justified in refusing to adjourn a stalking trial following the prosecution’s failure to respond to a defendant’s request for disclosure of telephone call data and cell site data until a few days before the trial date. As a result of the prosecution’s delay, he had also been entitled to exclude the telephone call data and cell site data in its entirety, under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 s.78, effectively bringing the prosecution to an end.

[2015] EWCA Crim 175

It had not been open to a magistrates’ court to refuse the prosecution’s application to adjourn a trial for thirty minutes to await the arrival of a witness where there had been two previous adjournments due to lack of court time, the witness had been held up through no fault of the prosecution and a consequence of the refusal was a discontinuance of a case for serious racially aggravated offences.

An appeal by way of case stated was allowed on the ground that a stay of prosecution ought not to have been granted as the prosecution’s failure to provide CCTV footage in a readable form was not concerned with protecting the integrity of the criminal justice system. As no one had ever viewed the footage, the decision to grant a stay had been wholly speculative.

[2015] EWHC 48 (Admin)

A judge had been entitled to decide that further delay would not be in the interests of justice when he refused a prosecution application for an adjournment to secure the attendance of an expert witness in a trial of two parents who had been charged with child cruelty.

The secretary of state’s cancellation of a parole board hearing, while an offender imprisoned for public protection was being psychiatrically assessed, had breached his right to a speedy review. The hearing should have been adjourned to avoid having to restart the process. The decision to cancel had been taken unilaterally, had undermined the parole board’s status as a court independent of the executive and had frustrated the discharge of its ECHR art.5 functions.

[2014] EWHC 4180 (Admin)

Where no party was at fault for a delay, the question of whether to adjourn a trial depended on the facts and was a matter for the trial court. If the court had considered all material matters, had not taken into account irrelevant considerations and its conclusion was not unfair or contrary to the interests of justice, the appeal court would not review the proper exercise of discretion.

[2014] EWHC 4572 (Admin)

The requirement in the Criminal Procedure Rules 2014 Pt 67 to give immediate notice of an intention to seek permission to appeal against a terminating ruling was a mandatory pre-condition to establish appeal jurisdiction. The failure of counsel for the prosecution to give such notice, where he had withdrawn from the case due to professional embarrassment but remained ostensibly holding the prosecution brief, meant that the court lacked jurisdiction to consider an application for permission to appeal.

[2014] EWCA Crim 2078

A district judge had been unreasonable not to adjourn the trial of two men facing public order charges where the prosecution did not have the papers and was being represented by an associate prosecutor who did not have rights of audience to lead the trial.

It had not been appropriate to stay a prosecution in a very high cost case where no barrister had been prepared to accept instructions to represent the defendants because of a reduction in the remuneration rate for such cases. There had been a reasonable prospect of a sufficient number of Public Defender Service advocates, including QCs, being available for a trial. It was possible for the defendants to receive a fair hearing and a stay was not necessary to protect the integrity of the criminal justice system.

[2014] EWCA Crim 1028

Although a judge had erred in applying the incorrect, higher, criminal standard of protection when refusing a defendant’s application for adjournment of civil recovery proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 Pt 5, the proceedings had been conducted fairly for the purposes of the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 art.6(1) and the overriding objective.

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[2014] EWCA Civ 171

A magistrates court had not acted unreasonably in adjourning a trial on the basis that the case would not be completed within a day due to the late attendance of prosecution witnesses and the defendant’s late application to adduce bad character evidence.

A magistrates’ decision to adjourn a trial was ultimately an exercise in case management which was reasonable and took account of all relevant considerations. Further, in view of the defendant’s application at the start of the trial to adduce bad character evidence the decision to adjourn was almost inevitable.

[2013] EWHC 3831 (Admin)

A Crown Court judge had correctly exercised his discretion under the Criminal Procedure Rules 2011 r.63.10 in deciding to hear an appeal against conviction even though the court was sitting with only a circuit judge and one lay justice, as the procedural history of the case, which included two adjournments, meant that the case would be unreasonably delayed if adjourned again.

It was vital that applications for adjournment of applications for leave to appeal were made in good time and not at the very last moment, even where counsel had been engaged to act pro bono and wished for time to study the case.

[2013] EWCA Crim 1465

The court made observations on the authorities dealing with adjournments in the magistrates’ courts.

[2013] NIQB 67

The High Court in Northern Ireland considered the correct approach to be taken by a magistrates’ court when considering an application for an adjournment of a contested hearing.

[2013] NIQB 57

A magistrates’ court was entitled to exercise its discretion to refuse to adjourn a case where the prosecution witnesses had not appeared at the appointed time. As a result of the errors that had occurred on the part of the prosecution, the overriding objective in the Criminal Procedure Rules 2012 r.1.1 was no longer capable of fulfilment.

[2013] EWHC 1388 (Admin)

Magistrates had not erred in their approach to the statutory test under the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 s.82 when they decided that an offender should be committed to prison for failing to comply with a confiscation order because he had not made genuine efforts to meet the sum due by bringing about the sale of property that he owned.

[2013] EWHC 1040 (Admin)

Magistrates were entitled to conclude that a particular doctor was the medical practitioner in immediate charge of the welfare of a patient under the Road Traffic Act 1988 s.9 when the patient had agreed to providing a blood specimen which demonstrated that he had been driving while over the limit.

[2013] EWHC 615 (Admin)

In a case of unlawful wounding, the judge had not erred in allowing to be admitted the evidence of an accident-and-emergency consultant who had made a statement, served five weeks before the trial, which cast doubt on the defendant’s account of how the victim had sustained his injuries.

[2013] EWCA Crim 123

It was wrong in principle for magistrates to record convictions for both the simple and racially aggravated forms of a public order offence arising from the same incident. In so holding the Divisional Court departed from its previous decisions in DPP v Gane (1991) 155 J.P. 846 and R. (on the application of Crown Prosecution Service) v Blaydon Youth Court [2004] EWHC 2296 (Admin), (2004) 168 J.P. 638.

[2013] EWHC 547 (admin)

Extradition to Lithuania of a person accused of being a member of a criminal organisation accused of serious crimes was not rendered oppressive by the passage of 15 years since the last alleged offence was committed. Expert evidence about the risks of extradition for the accused was entirely unreliable.

[2012] EWHC 4118 (Admin)

A district judge erred in refusing to re-open an offender’s convictions for driving offences and to adjourn sentencing him in his absence where there was medical evidence that he was unfit to plead or attend court. The judge gave no reasons for taking the exceptional course of proceeding to sentence the offender in his absence in circumstances where there was medical evidence in support of an adjournment which could not be said to be spurious.

[2012] EWHC 3864 (Admin)

Neither the right to effective access to the courts under the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 art.6 nor the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 s.51(8) required an interested party to be represented by a lawyer at a hearing to determine whether a receiver should be given power to realise property.

[2012] EWCA Crim 2350

A magistrates’ court was entitled to dismiss a summons against a defendant in respect of an alleged offence of illegal street trading where the local authority had not attended court with the relevant files following a succession of adjournments.

[2012] EWHC 1700 (Admin)

A magistrates’ court had been entitled to proceed with a trial in the defendant’s absence, despite the existence of a medical certificate, in circumstances where the trial had been adjourned on four previous occasions due to the defendant’s illness and the latest medical certificate had been issued by a general practitioner who had not examined the defendant.

[2012] EWHC 1403 (Admin)