Criminal Procedure (Attendance of Witnesses) Act 1965

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1965 c. 69


Criminal Procedure(Attendance of Witnesses)Act 1965

1965 CHAPTER 69

An Act to make new provision for securing the attendance of witnesses in criminal proceedings before courts of assize and quarter sessions; to abolish the binding over of prosecutors for the purpose of such proceedings; to restrict the issue of subpoenas for securing the attendance of witnesses before magistrates' courts; and for connected purposes.

[5th August 1965]

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:—

S-1 Order by examining justices for attendance of witness at court of trial.

1 Order by examining justices for attendance of witness at court of trial.

(1) A magistrates' court acting as examining justices shall in respect of each witness examined by the court, other than the accused and any witness of his merely to his character, make an order (in this Act referred to as a witness order) requiring him to attend and give evidence before the court of assize or quarter sessions before which the accused is to be tried.

(2) Where it appears to the court, after taking into account any representation made by the accused or the prosecutor, that the attendance at the trial of any witness is unnecessary on the ground that his evidence is unlikely to be required or is unlikely to be disputed, then—

(a ) any witness order to be made by the court in his case shall be a conditional order requiring him to attend the trial if notice in that behalf is given to him and not otherwise; and

(b ) if a witness order other than a conditional order has previously been made by the court in his case, the court shall direct that that order be treated as a conditional order.

(3) A magistrates' court on committing any person for trial shall inform him of his right to require the attendance at the trial of any witness in respect of whom a conditional witness order, or an order treated as a conditional witness order, has been made, and of the steps he must take for the purpose of enforcing the attendance.

(4) Section 5 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1952 (which requires a magistrates' court acting as examining justices to bind over witnesses to attend and give evidence before the court at which the accused is to be tried and also to bind over the prosecutor to prosecute the accused before that court) shall cease to have effect, but without prejudice to any recognisance entered into under that section before the commencement of this Act.

S-2 Summons to witness to attend court of assize or quarter sessions.

2 Summons to witness to attend court of assize or quarter sessions.

(1) For the purpose of any criminal proceedings before a court of assize or quarter sessions a witness summons, that is to say, a summons requiring the person to whom it is directed to attend before the court and give evidence or produce any document or thing specified in the summons, may be issued out of that court or out of the High Court.

(2) If any person in respect of whom a witness summons has been issued applies to the court out of which the summons was issued or to the High Court, and satisfies the court that he cannot give any material evidence or, as the case may be, produce any document or thing likely to be material evidence, the court may direct that the summons shall be of no effect.

(3) The provisions of Schedule 1 to this Act shall have effect in relation to applications under the last foregoing subsection.

S-3 Punishment for disobedience to witness order or witness summons.

3 Punishment for disobedience to witness order or witness summons.

(1) Any person who without just excuse disobeys a witness order or witness summons requiring him to attend before any court shall be guilty of contempt of that court and may be punished summarily by that court as if his contempt had been committed in the face of the court.

(2) No person shall by reason of such disobedience be liable to imprisonment for a period exceeding three months.

(3) In section 4(5) of the Criminal Justice Administration Act 1962 (power of legally qualified chairman of quarter sessions to sit alone where no other member of the court is available) references to dealing or further dealing with the case of a person committed to the court for trial shall include references to dealing or further dealing with a person under this section.

S-4 Further process to secure attendance of witness.

4 Further process to secure attendance of witness.

(1) If a judge of the High Court is satisfied by evidence on oath that a witness in respect of whom a witness order or witness summons is in force is unlikely to comply with the order or summons, the judge may issue a warrant to arrest the witness and bring him before the court before which he is required to attend:

Provided that a warrant shall not be issued under this subsection in the case of a witness subject to a conditional witness order unless notice has been given requiring him to attend the trial, nor in the case of a witness subject to a witness summons unless the judge is satisfied by such evidence as aforesaid that the witness is likely to be able to give material evidence or produce any document or thing likely to be material evidence in the proceedings.

(2) Where a witness who is required to attend before a court of assize or quarter sessions by virtue of a witness order or a witness summons fails to attend in compliance with the order or summons, that court may—

(a ) in any case, cause to be served on him a notice requiring him to attend the court forthwith or at such time as may be specified in the notice;

(b ) if the court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that he has failed to attend without just excuse, or if he has failed to comply with a notice under paragraph (a ) above, issue a warrant to arrest him and bring him before the court.

(3) A witness brought before a court in pursuance of a warrant under this section may be remanded by that court in custody or on bail (with or without sureties) until such time as the court may appoint for receiving his evidence or dealing with him under section 3 of this Act; and where a witness attends a court in pursuance of a notice under this section the court may direct that the notice shall have effect as if it required him to attend at any later time appointed by the court for receiving his evidence or dealing with him as aforesaid.

S-5 Provisions supplementary to s. 4.

5 Provisions supplementary to s. 4.

(1) Subject to the following provisions of this section, if at the time when a witness is arrested under section 4 of this Act he cannot forthwith be brought before the court of assize or quarter sessions specified in the warrant because that court is not being held, the warrant shall have effect as if it directed him to be brought before a magistrates' court for the place where he is arrested; and that court shall commit him to custody or release him on bail (with or without sureties) until he can be brought or appear before that court of assize or quarter sessions.

(2) If the judge or court issuing a warrant in respect of any witness under section 4 of this Act is of opinion that it is appropriate to do so, the judge or court may endorse the warrant for bail, and in any such case—

(a ) on the arrest of the witness under the warrant he shall, unless he can forthwith be brought before the court specified in the warrant, be taken to a police station; and

(b ) the officer in charge of the station shall release him from custody if he, and any sureties required by the endorsement and approved by the officer, enter into recognisances of such amount as may be fixed by the endorsement, conditioned for the appearance of the witness before the court specified in the warrant; and

(c ) subsection (1) above shall not apply except where the witness is unable to secure his release in accordance with this subsection.

(3) If a court issuing a warrant in respect of any witness under section 4(2) of this Act is of opinion that the evidence of the witness can be dispensed with but that consideration should be given to dealing with him under section 3 of this Act, it may endorse the warrant as issued for the purposes of the said section 3, and in any such case—

(a ) the magistrates' court shall not commit a witness to custody under subsection (1) above unless satisfied that the court specified in the warrant will be held within seven days after the date of the committal; and

(b ) if not so satisfied the magistrates' court may, instead of releasing him on bail, commit him to custody to be brought before a judge of the High Court or a commissioner of assize, and that judge or commissioner shall in respect of the witness have all the powers...

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