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Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill [H.L.]

7.34 p.m.

Consideration of amendments on Report resumed.

Clause 43 [Appeal by accused in case involving insanity]:

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 78:


Page 38, line 17, leave out from ("(b)") to end of line and insert (", or both paragraphs (b) and (c), of that subsection, not later than 28").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, in speaking to Amendment No. 78, perhaps I may also speak to Amendments Nos. 79 to 83.

I undertook in response to amendments moved in Committee by the noble Lord, Lord Macaulay, to reconsider the time limits we have provided for appeals by accused persons against the findings of and disposals made at examinations of facts and against the disposals made when a person is acquitted at his trial on the ground of insanity.

I accepted that seven days was too short a period in those circumstances. In giving thought to what might be appropriate alternatives, I have had regard to the various periods specified in the 1975 Act in relation to appeals in both solemn and summary proceedings. But I consider it neither necessary nor appropriate to replicate their complexity.

I entirely accept the noble Lord's reasoning behind the Committee stage amendments that lawyers may face difficulty, particularly in relation to the preparation of these appeals, in obtaining proper instructions from the accused. My view is that this problem is likely to be most acute in relation to appeals against the findings at examinations of facts; that is, that the accused did the act charged. That seems to me to be the category of appeal which might involve the most work to prepare and lodge. I seek to draw no distinction between solemn and summary cases and propose a time period of four weeks.

As regards appeals against the disposal made after an examination of facts or after a trial, acquittal on the grounds of insanity, I would propose a shorter period of two weeks. I hope that that is acceptable to your Lordships. I beg to move.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar: My Lords, I wish to put on record my gratitude to the Minister for his humane understanding of the problems faced by solicitors in cases such as those to which the clause refers and for taking note of what was said at Committee stage.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

6 Feb 1995 : Column 84

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendments Nos. 79 to 83:


Page 38, line 19, at end insert:
("(iii) in the case of an appeal under paragraph (c) of that subsection against an order made on an acquittal, by virtue of section 174(2) or 174ZA(3) of this Act, on the ground of insanity at the time of the act or omission, not later than 14 days after the date of the acquittal;
(iv) in the case of an appeal under that paragraph against an order made on a finding under section 174ZA(2), not later than 14 days after the conclusion of the examination of facts,").
Page 38, line 42, at end insert:
("( ) Section 280 of this Act shall not apply in relation to any order as respects which a person has a right of appeal under subsection (1) (c) above.").
Page 39, line 11, leave out from ("(b)") to end of line and insert (", or both paragraphs (b) and (c), of that subsection, not later than 28").
Page 39, line 13, at end insert:
("(iii) in the case of an appeal under paragraph (c) of that subsection against an order made on an acquittal, by virtue of section 375(3A) or 375ZA(3) of this Act, on the ground of insanity at the time of the act or omission, not later than 14 days after the date of the acquittal;
(iv) in the case of an appeal under that paragraph against an order made on a finding under section 375ZA(2), not later than 14 days after the conclusion of the examination of facts,").
Page 39, line 34, at end insert:
("( ) Section 443 of this Act shall not apply in relation to any order as respects which a person has a right of appeal under subsection (1) (c) above.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 84:


Before Clause 48, insert the following new clause:

Criminal Courts Rules Council

(" .—(1) There shall be established a body, to be known as the Criminal Courts Rules Council (in this section referred to as "the Council") which shall have the functions conferred on it by subsection (8) below.
(2) The Council shall consist of—
(a) the Lord Justice General, the Lord Justice Clerk and the Clerk of Justiciary;
(b) a further Lord Commissioner of Justiciary appointed by the Lord Justice General;
(c) the following persons appointed by the Lord Justice General after such consultation as he considers appropriate—
(i) two sheriffs;
(ii) two members of the Faculty of Advocates;
(iii) two solicitors;
(iv) one sheriff clerk; and
(v) one person appearing to him to have a knowledge of the procedures and practices of the district court;
(d) two persons appointed by the Lord Justice General after consultation with the Lord Advocate, at least one of whom must be a procurator fiscal;
(e) two persons appointed by the Lord Justice General after consultation with the Secretary of State, at least one of whom must be a person appearing to the Lord Justice General to have—
(i) a knowledge of the procedures and practices of the courts exercising criminal jurisdiction in Scotland; and

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(ii) an awareness of the interests of victims of crime and of witnesses in criminal proceedings; and
(f) any persons appointed under subsection (3) below.
(3) The Lord Justice General may appoint not more than two further persons, and the Secretary of State may appoint one person, to membership of the Council.
(4) The chairman of the Council shall be the Lord Justice General or such other member of the Council, being a Lord Commissioner of Justiciary, as the Lord Justice General may nominate.
(5) The members of the Council appointed under paragraphs (b) to (f) of subsection (2) above shall, so long as they retain the respective qualifications (if any) mentioned in those paragraphs, hold office for three years and be eligible for reappointment.
(6) Any vacancy in the membership of the Council by reason of the death or demission of office, prior to the expiry of the period for which he was appointed, of a member appointed under any of paragraphs (b) to (f) of subsection (2) above shall be filled by the appointment by the Lord Justice General or, as the case may be, the Secretary of State, after such consultation (if any) as is required by the paragraph in question, of another person having the qualifications (if any) required by that paragraph, and a person so appointed shall hold office only until the expiry of that period.
(7) The Council shall meet—
(a) at intervals of not more than 12 months; and
(b) at any time when summoned by the chairman or by three members of the Council,
but shall, subject to the foregoing, have power to regulate the summoning of its meetings and the procedure at such meetings.
(8) At any meeting of the Council six members shall be a quorum.
(9) The functions of the Council shall be—
(a) to keep under general review the procedures and practices of the courts exercising criminal jurisdiction in Scotland (including any matters incidental or relating to those procedures or practices); and
(b) to consider and comment on any draft Act of Adjournal submitted to it by the High Court, which shall, in making the Act of Adjournal, take account to such extent as it considers appropriate of any comments made by the Council under this paragraph.
(10) In the discharge of its functions under subsection (9) above the Council may invite representations on any aspect of the procedures and practices of the courts exercising criminal jurisdiction in Scotland (including any matters incidental or relating to those procedures or practices) and shall consider any such representations received by it, whether or not submitted in response to such an invitation.
(11) Except where the context otherwise requires, expressions used in this section and in the 1975 Act have the same meaning in this section as in that Act.").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, noble Lords with a knowledge of Scottish criminal procedure will be aware that the High Court has had a long-standing power under statute to make secondary legislation, by Act of Adjournal, regulating practice and procedure in the criminal courts. This power is now exercised under Sections 282 and 457 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1975.

Existing legislation makes no provision for the High Court to consult in exercising its powers. This contrasts with the arrangements for preparing Acts of Sederunt, which regulate civil court procedure in Scotland and under which there are rules councils for the court of session and sheriff courts with a membership representing the judiciary and court users.

I am pleased therefore to be able to introduce this provision which provides for the setting up under statute of a rules council for criminal court proceedings. The new council will have broadly comparable functions to

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the existing rules councils for civil court business and will provide a structured consultative forum for considering and commenting on proposals for changes to the rules of court. In this way the new body will assist the High Court in discharging its powers for making Acts of Adjournal.

Subsections (2) and (3) of the new clause make provision for the membership of the council. In drawing up the membership framework care has been taken to involve those with practical experience of working in the courts and operating the rules.

During the debate on this Bill, as happened earlier this afternoon, there has been considerable attention paid to the interests of victims in the operation of the criminal justice system. Noble Lords, therefore, will wish to note that provision has been made for involving in the new council a member who combines a knowledge of criminal court practices and procedures with an awareness of the interests of victims and witnesses in those proceedings.

The new arrangements are based on discussions with the Lord Justice General, whose suggestion it was that this change might be made. I beg to move.


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