Courts Act 1971

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1971 c. 23


Courts Act 1971

1971 CHAPTER 23

An Act to make further provision as respects the Supreme Court and county courts, judges and juries, to establish a Crown Court as part of the Supreme Court to try indictments and exercise certain other jurisdiction, to abolish courts of assize and certain other courts and to deal with their jurisdiction and other consequential matters, and to amend in other respects the law about courts and court proceedings.

[12th May 1971]

Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

I Introductory

Part I

Introductory

S-1 The Supreme Court.

1 The Supreme Court.

(1) The Supreme Court shall consist of the Court of Appeal and the High Court, together with the Crown Court established by this Act.

(2) All courts of assize are hereby abolished, and Commissions, whether ordinary or special, to hold any court of assize shall not be issued.

S-2 Location of sittings and business of High Court.

2 Location of sittings and business of High Court.

(1) Sittings of the High Court may be held, and any other business of the High Court may be conducted, at any place in England or Wales.

(2) Subject to rules of court—

(a ) the places at which the High Court sits outside the Royal Courts of Justice, and

(b ) the days and times when the High Court sits outside the Royal Courts of Justice,

shall be determined in accordance with directions given by or on behalf of the Lord Chancellor.

S-3 Abolition of courts of quarter sessions.

3 Abolition of courts of quarter sessions.

Courts of quarter sessions are hereby abolished, and Commissions of the Peace issued on or after the appointed day shall be framed so as to take account of the provisions of this section.

II The Crown Court

Part II

The Crown Court

S-4 Establishment of the Crown Court.

4 Establishment of the Crown Court.

(1) There shall be a Crown Court in England and Wales which shall be a superior court of record.

(2) The jurisdiction and powers of the Crown Court shall be exercised by—

(a ) any judge of the High Court, or

(b ) any Circuit judge or Recorder, or

(c ) subject to and in accordance with the provisions of the next following section, a judge of the High Court, Circuit judge or Recorder sitting with justices of the peace,

and any such persons when exercising the jurisdiction and powers of the Crown Court shall be judges of the Crown Court.

(3) Any judge of the Court of Appeal may, on the request of the Lord Chancellor, sit and act as a judge of the Crown Court, and when so sitting and acting shall be regarded for the purposes of this Part of this Act, or of any other enactment relating to the Crown Court, as a judge of the High Court.

(4) Subject to the provisions of the next following section as respects a court comprising justices of the peace, all proceedings in the Crown Court shall be heard and disposed of before a single judge, and—

(a ) any Crown Court business may be conducted at any place in England or Wales,

(b ) sittings of the Crown Court at any place may be continuous or intermittent or occasional,

(c ) judges may sit simultaneously to take any number of different cases in the same or in different places, and all or any of them may adjourn cases from place to place at any time.

(5) The cases or classes of cases suitable for allocation respectively to a judge of the High Court, and to a Circuit judge or Recorder, and all other matters relating to the distribution of Crown Court business, shall be determined in accordance with directions given by or on behalf of the Lord Chief Justice with the concurrence of the Lord Chancellor given by him or on his behalf.

(6) The places at which the Crown Court sits, and the days and times when the Crown Court sits at any place, shall be determined in accordance with directions given by or on behalf of the Lord Chancellor.

(7) When the Crown Court sits in the City of London it shall be known as the Central Criminal Court, and, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (4) above requiring proceedings to be heard and disposed of before a single judge, the Lord Mayor of the City and any Alderman of the City shall be entitled to sit as judges of the Central Criminal Court with any judge of the High Court or any Circuit judge or Recorder.

(8) Subject to section 8 of the Criminal Procedure (Attendance of Witnesses) Act 1965 (which in criminal cases substitutes the procedure in that Act for procedure by way of subpoena), and to any provision contained in or having effect under this Act, the Crown Court shall, in relation to the attendance and examination of witnesses, any contempt of court, the enforcement of its orders and all other matters incidental to its jurisdiction have the like powers, rights, privileges and authority as the High Court.

(9) The fees to be taken in any proceedings in the Crown Court shall be such, if any, as the Lord Chancellor, with the concurrence of the Treasury may from time to time prescribe by order in a statutory instrument.

(10) The officers of the Crown Court shall be responsible for the keeping of the records of the proceedings of the court, the signing of indictments, the notification to those concerned of the place and time appointed for any proceedings or other business, and such other formal or administrative matters as may be specified by directions given by or on behalf of the Lord Chancellor.

(11) Officers of the Crown Court shall in particular give effect to any orders or directions of the court for taking into custody, and detaining, any person committing contempt of court, and shall execute any order or warrant duly issued by the court for the committal of any person to prison for contempt of court.

S-5 Justices as judges of Crown Court.

5 Justices as judges of Crown Court.

(1) On any hearing by the Crown Court—

(a ) of any appeal, or

(b ) of proceedings on committal to the Court for sentence,

the Crown Court shall consist of a judge of the High Court or a Circuit judge or a Recorder who, subject to the following provisions of this section, shall sit with not less than two nor more than four justices of the peace.

(2) Crown Court rules may, subject to subsection (1) above, prescribe the number of justices of the peace constituting the Court on any hearing within subsection (1)(a ) or (b ) above, and may prescribe the qualifications to be possessed by any such justices of the peace; and the rules may make different provision for different descriptions of cases, different places of sitting or other different circumstances.

(3) Without prejudice to the provisions of subsection (1) above, any jurisdiction or power of the Crown Court may be exercised by a judge of the High Court, Circuit judge or Recorder sitting with not more than four justices of the peace.

(4) Subject to the provisions of subsections (1) and (2) above, the cases or classes of cases suitable for allocation to a court comprising justices of the peace (including those by way of trial on indictment which are suitable for allocation to such a court) shall be determined in accordance with directions given by or on behalf of the Lord Chief Justice with the concurrence of the Lord Chancellor.

(5) The Lord Chancellor may from time to time, having regard to the number of justices, or the number of justices with any prescribed qualifications, available for service in the Crown Court, give directions providing that, in such descriptions of proceedings as may be specified by the Lord Chancellor, the provisions of subsections (1) and (2) above shall not apply.

Directions under this subsection may frame descriptions of proceedings by reference to the place of trial, or by reference to the time of trial, or in any other way.

(6) Crown Court rules may authorise or require a judge of the High Court, Circuit judge or Recorder, in such circumstances as are specified by the rules, to enter on, or at any stage to continue with, any proceedings with a court not comprising the justices required by subsections (1) and (2) above or at any stage to continue with any proceedings with a court from which any one or more of the justices initially comprising the court has withdrawn, or is absent for any reason.

(7) No decision of a court shall be questioned on the ground that it was not constituted as required by subsections (1) and (2) above unless objection was taken on that ground by or on behalf of a party to the proceedings not later than the time when the proceedings were entered on, or when the alleged irregularity began.

(8) When a judge of the High Court, Circuit judge or Recorder sits with justices of the peace he shall preside, and—

(a ) the decision of the Crown Court may be a majority decision, and

(b ) if the members of the court are equally divided, the judge of the High Court, Circuit judge or Recorder shall have a second and casting vote.

(9) A justice of the peace shall not be disqualified from acting as a judge of the Crown Court for the reason that the proceedings are not at a place within the area for which he was appointed as a justice, or because the proceedings are not related to that area in any other way.

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