§ Baroness Howells of St Davids
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What the terms of reference are for the Law Commission's review of the law governing prosecution appeals in criminal proceedings. [HL2635]
§ Lord Bassam of Brighton
The Law Commission published a consultation document on the law of double jeopardy on 12 October 1999 following my request to it of 2 July 1999 as part of the Government's response to the Stephen Lawrence report. The consultation period ended on 31 January and the commission is considering the responses received before making its final recommendations to the Government. As the terms of reference intended, the consultation document did refer to prosecution rights of appeal but not in any detail as to how these might be achieved.
My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has, therefore, today formally asked the Law Commission to undertake a review of the law governing prosecution appeals against judge directed acquittals in criminal proceedings and other adverse rulings by a judge which may lead to the premature ending of the trial. The terms of reference for this review are:
- (a) whether any, and if so, what, additional rights of appeal or other remedies should be available to the prosecution from adverse rulings of a judge in a trial on indictment which the prosecution may wish to overturn and which may result or may have resulted, whether directly or indirectly, in premature termination of the trial;
- (b) to what, if any, procedural restrictions such appeals would be subject and to make recommendations."
I should emphasise that the issue here is the question of a prosecution right of appeal against adverse rulings made by the judge, which leads to the ending of the trial before the jury has considered the evidence. The question whether, and in what circumstances, a jury's decision on the evidence to acquit can be challenged is the subject of the double jeopardy consideration by the commission. Both these issues are entirely separate from the prosecution's right of appeal against an unduly lenient sentence after a jury has convicted a defendant.