Magistrates' Courts Act 1952

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1952 c. 55


Magistrates' Courts Act , 1952

(15 & 16 Geo. 6 & 1 Eliz. 2) CHAPTER 55

An Act to consolidate certain enactments relating to the jurisdiction of, and the practice and procedure before, magistrates' courts and the functions of justices' clerks, and to matters connected therewith, with corrections and improvements made under the Consolidation of Enactments (Procedure) Act, 1949.

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 Criminal Jurisdiction and Procedure

Part I

Criminal Jurisdiction and Procedure

Jurisdiction to issue process and deal with charges

Jurisdiction to issue process and deal with charges

S-1 Issue of summons to accused or warrant for his arrest.

1 Issue of summons to accused or warrant for his arrest.

(1) Upon an information being laid before a justice of the peace for any county or borough that any person has, or is suspected of having, committed an offence, the justice may, in any of the events mentioned in subsection (2) of this section—

(a ) issue a summons directed to that person requiring him to appear before a magistrates' court for the county or borough to answer to the information; or

(b ) issue a warrant to arrest that person and bring him before a magistrates' court for the county or borough or such magistrates' court as is provided in subsection (2) of this section:

Provided that the justice shall not issue a warrant unless the information is in writing and substantiated on oath.

(2) A justice of the peace for a county or borough may issue a summons or warrant under this section—

(a ) if the offence was committed or is suspected to have been committed within the county or borough; or

(b ) if it appears to the justice necessary or expedient, with a view to the better administration of justice, that the person charged should be tried jointly with, or in the same place as, some other person who is charged with an offence, and who is in custody, or is being or is to be proceeded against, within the county or borough; or

(c ) if the person charged resides or is, or is believed to reside or be, within the county or borough; or

(d ) if under any enactment a magistrates' court for the county or borough has jurisdiction to try the offence:

Provided that where the offence charged is not an indictable offence—

(i) a summons shall not be issued by virtue only of paragraph (c ) of this subsection, and

(ii) any warrant issued by virtue only of that paragraph shall require the person charged to be brought before a magistrates' court having jurisdiction to try the offence.

(3) Where the offence charged is an indictable offence, a warrant under this section may be issued at any time notwithstanding that a summons has previously been issued.

(4) A warrant may be issued by virtue of paragraph (c ) of subsection (2) of this section notwithstanding that the offence was committed outside England and Wales if an indictment for the offence may legally be preferred in England or Wales.

(5) A justice of the peace may issue a summons or warrant under this section upon an information being laid before him notwithstanding any enactment requiring the information to be laid before two or more justices.

S-2 Jurisdiction to deal with charges.

2 Jurisdiction to deal with charges.

(1) A magistrates' court for a county or borough shall have jurisdiction to try all summary offences committed within the county or borough.

(2) Where a person charged with a summary offence appears or is brought before a magistrates' court in answer to a summons issued under paragraph (b of the preceding section, or under a warrant issued under that paragraph, the court shall have jurisdiction to try the offence.

(3) A magistrates' court for a county or borough shall have jurisdiction as examining justices over any offence committed by a person who appears or is brought before the court, whether or not the offence was committed within the county or borough.

(4) A magistrates' court shall, in the exercise of its powers under subsection (3) of section eighteen, or under section nineteen, twenty or twenty-one of this Act, have jurisdiction to try summarily an indictable offence in any case in which under the last preceding subsection it would have jurisdiction as examining justices.

(5) Nothing in this section shall affect any jurisdiction over offences conferred on a magistrates' court by any enactment not contained in this Act.

S-3 Offences committed on boundaries or on journeys. Offences begun in one jurisdiction and completed in another.

3 Offences committed on boundaries or on journeys. Offences begun in one jurisdiction and completed in another.

(1) Where an offence has been committed on the boundary between two or more local jurisdictions, or within five hundred yards of such a boundary, or in any harbour, river, arm of the sea or other water lying between two or more local jurisdictions, the offence may be treated for the purposes of the preceding provisions of this Act as having been committed in any of those jurisdictions.

(2) An offence begun in one local jurisdiction and completed in another may be treated for the purposes of the preceding provisions of this Act as having been wholly committed in either.

(3) Where an offence has been committed on any person, or on or in respect of any property, in or on a vehicle or vessel engaged on any journey or voyage through two or more local jurisdictions, the offence may be treated for the purposes of the preceding provisions of this Act as having been committed in any of those jurisdictions; and where the side or any part of a road or any water along which the vehicle or vessel passed in the course of the journey or voyage forms the boundary between two or more jurisdictions, the offence may be treated for the purposes of the preceding provisions of this Act as having been committed in any of those local jurisdictions.

(4) In this section the expression ‘local jurisdiction’ means a county or a borough having a separate commission of the peace.

Proceedings preliminary to trial on indictment

Proceedings preliminary to trial on indictment

S-4 General nature of proceedings before examining justices.

4 General nature of proceedings before examining justices.

(1) The functions of examining justices may be discharged by a single justice.

(2) Examining justices shall not be obliged to sit in open court.

(3) Evidence given before examining justices shall be given in the presence of the accused; and the defence shall be at liberty to put questions to any witness at the inquiry.

S-5 Binding over prosecutor and witnesses to attend trial.

5 Binding over prosecutor and witnesses to attend trial.

(1) A magistrates' court acting as examining justices shall bind each witness examined before it, other than the accused and any witness of his merely to his character, by a recognizance to attend and give evidence before the court of assize or quarter sessions before which the accused is to be tried; and it shall bind the prosecutor by a recognizance to prosecute the accused before that court.

This subsection shall have effect subject to section seven of the Prosecution of Offences Act, 1879, which relates to cases the prosecution of which is carried on by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

(2) Where it appears to the court, after taking into account any representation made by the accused or prosecutor, that the attendance at the trial of any witness examined before the court is unnecessary by reason of any statement by the accused, or of the accused having admitted before the court the truth of the charge, or of the evidence of the witness being merely formal, the court shall—

(a ) if the witness has not already been bound over, bind him over to attend the trial conditionally, that is to say, on notice being given to him and not otherwise;

(b ) if the witness has already been bound over, direct that he shall be treated as having been bound over to attend the trial conditionally as aforesaid.

(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 bound over, or treated as bound over, conditionally as aforesaid and of the steps that he must take for the purpose of enforcing the attendance.

(4) If any witness on being required to enter into a recognizance under this section refuses to do so, the court may commit him to custody until after the trial of the accused or until he sooner enters into the recognizance:

Provided that if the court does not commit the accused for trial it shall release the witness.

S-6 Adjournment of inquiry.

6 Adjournment of inquiry.

(1) A magistrates' court may, before beginning to inquire into an offence as examining justices, or at any time during the inquiry, adjourn the hearing, and if it does so shall remand the accused.

(2) The court shall when adjourning fix the time and place at which the hearing is to be resumed; and the time fixed shall be that at which the accused is required to appear or be brought before the court in pursuance of the remand.

S-7 Discharge or committal for trial.

7 Discharge or committal for trial.

(1) Subject to the provisions of this and any other Act relating to the summary trial of indictable offences, if a magistrates' court inquiring into an offence as examining justices is of opinion, on consideration of the evidence and of any statement of the accused, that there is sufficient evidence to put the accused upon trial by jury for any indictable offence, the court shall commit him for trial; and, if it is not of that opinion, it shall, if he is in custody for no other cause than the offence under inquiry, discharge...

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