Practice Note (Judges' Rules)

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal
[COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEAL.] PRACTICE NOTE (JUDGES' RULES). 1964 Jan. 24. Lord Parker C.J., Ashworth, Paull and Widgery JJ.

Crime - Evidence - Confessions - Judges' Rules - New rules - Procedure.

At the sitting of the court, the revised edition of the Judges' Rules, coming into operation on January 27, 1964, dealing with the admissibility in evidence at the trial of any person of answers and statements made by him to police officers, were announced.

LORD PARKER C.J. The origin of the Judges' Rules is probably to be found in a letter dated October 26, 1906, which the then Lord Chief Justice, Lord Alverstone, wrote to the Chief Constable of Birmingham in answer to a request for advice in consequence of the fact that on the same circuit one judge had censured a member of his force for having cautioned a prisoner, whilst another judge had censured a constable for having omitted to do so. The first four of the present rules were formulated and approved by the judges of the King's Bench Division in 1912; the remaining five in 1918. They have been much criticised, inter alia, for alleged lack of clarity and of efficacy for the protection of persons who are questioned by police officers; on the other hand it has been maintained that their application unduly hampers the detection and punishment of crime. A committee of judges has devoted considerable time and attention to producing, after consideration of representative views, a new set of rules which has been approved by a meeting of all the Queen's Bench Judges.

The judges control the conduct of trials and the admission of evidence against persons on trial before them: they do not control or in any way initiate or supervise police activities or conduct. As stated in paragraph (e) of the introduction to the new rules, it is the law that answers and statements made are only admissible in evidence if they have been voluntary in the sense that they have not been obtained by fear of prejudice or hope of advantage, exercised or held out by a person in authority, or by oppression. The new rules do not purport, any more than the old rules, to envisage or deal with the many varieties of conduct which might render answers and statements involuntary and therefore inadmissible. The rules merely deal with particular aspects of the matter. Other matters such as affording reasonably comfortable conditions, adequate breaks for rest and refreshment, special procedures in the case of persons unfamiliar with the English language or of immature age or feeble understanding, are proper subjects for administrative directions to the police.F1

These rules do not affect the principles

(a) That citizens have a duty to help a police officer to discover and apprehend offenders;

(b) That police officers, otherwise than by arrest, cannot compel any person against his will to come to or remain in any police station;

(c) That every person at any stage of an investigation should be able to communicate and to consult privately with a solicitor. This is so even if he is in custody provided that in such a case no unreasonable delay or hindrance is caused to the processes of investigation or the administration of justice by his doing so;

(d) That when a police officer who is making inquiries of any person about an offence has enough evidence to prefer a charge against that person for the offence, he should without delay cause that person to be charged or informed that he may be prosecuted for the offence;

(e) That it is a fundamental condition of the admissibility in evidence against any person, equally of any oral answer given by that person to a question put by a police officer and of any statement made by that person, that it shall have been voluntary, in the sense that it has not been obtained from him by fear of prejudice or hope of advantage, exercised or held out by a person in authority, or by oppression.

The principle set out in paragraph (e) above is overriding and applicable in all cases. Within that principle the following rules are put forward as a guide to police officers conducting investigations. Non-conformity with these rules may render answers and statements liable to be excluded from evidence in subsequent criminal proceedings.


I. When a police officer is trying to discover whether, or by whom, an offence has been committed he is entitled to question any person, whether suspected or not, from whom he thinks that useful information may be obtained. This is so whether or not the person in question has been taken into custody so long as he has not been charged with the offence or informed that he may be prosecuted for it.

II. As soon as a police officer has evidence which would afford reasonable grounds for suspecting that a person has committed an offence, he shall caution that person or cause him to be cautioned before putting to him any questions, or further questions, relating to that offence.

The caution shall be in the following terms:

“You are not obliged to say anything unless you wish to do so but what you say may be put into writing and given in evidence.”

When after being cautioned a person is being questioned, or elects to make a statement, a record shall be kept of the time and place at which any such questioning or statement began and ended and of the persons present.

III — (a) Where a person is charged with or informed that he may be prosecuted for an offence he shall be cautioned in the following terms:

“Do you wish to say anything? You are not obliged to say anything unless you wish to do so but whatever you say will be taken down in writing and may be...

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40 cases
  • Patricia Henry v R
    • Jamaica
    • Court of Appeal (Jamaica)
    • 1 Abril 2011
    ...on the admissibility of a statement by a defendant of a breach of the Judges' Rules (as to which, see Practice Note (Judges' Rules) [1964] 1 WLR 152), Lord Carswell described the ‘overarching criterion’ of admissibility of such a statement as being ‘the fairness of the trial, the most impor......
  • Jordan Thompson v R
    • Jamaica
    • Court of Appeal (Jamaica)
    • 19 Diciembre 2013 Lord Carswell stated, ‘the Judges' Rules retain considerable importance’. The Judges' Rules are recorded by way of Practice Note in [1964] 1 WLR 152. The preamble to the rules sets out certain principles which are said not to be affected by the rules themselves, relating to certain obli......
  • State v Gobin; State v Griffith
    • Guyana
    • Court of Appeal (Guyana)
    • 31 Marzo 1976
    ...On the ground that the word ‘obtained’ in Lord Sumner's formulation in Ibrahim v. R. and in the introduction to the Judges' Rules [ (1964) 1 W.L.R. 152] was ambiguous and “might mean either intentionally or in fact obtained”, they held that a subjective intention to extract a confession wa......
  • R. v. Tessier, 2022 SCC 35
    • Canada
    • Supreme Court (Canada)
    • 14 Octubre 2022
    ...E.R. 234; R. v. K.P.L.F., 2010 NSCA 45, 290 N.S.R. (2d) 387; R. v. Voisin, [1918] 1 K.B. 531; Practice Note (Judges’ Rules), [1964] 1 W.L.R. 152; Prosko v. The King (1922), 63 S.C.R. 226; R. v. Whittle, [1994] 2 S.C.R. 914; Rothman v. The Queen, [1981] 1 S.C.R. 640; R. v. Fitton, [19......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • File Preparation
    • Jamaica
    • On Your Feet: Criminal Law Practice in the Parish Courts in Jamaica
    • 21 Junio 2021 the police offi cer the words of the caution that are generally used by the offi cer are based on the Judges’ Rules. Judges' Rules [1964] 1 All ER 237. 65 Order of Witness Name of Witness What Witness Will Say Comment On YOur Feet Figure 8.8 Question and Answer of Suspect Name Of Intervi......

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