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30.04.15

Divisional Court supports adjournment refusal

The decision in DPP v Graham Petrie [2015] EWHC 48 is a must read for criminal defence lawyers. The facts of the case concern a scenario which will familiar to all currently practising criminal law. The case was listed for a summary trial for driving with excess alcohol and the defence were running procedural defences and had requested CCTV. Needless to say the CCTV was in the wrong format and could not be played. The pros applied to adjourn and were unsuccessful. The defence successfully applied to stay on Ebrahim v Feltham Justices grounds. The two questions for the Divisional Court were: 1 whether the Justices were correct to refuse to adjourn; and 2. Whether they were correct to stay. The second question was answered in the negative which provided the basis for the successful appeal but it is the comments of Lord Justice Gross with respect to the first question which are of greatest interest: "it is essential that parties to proceedings in the Magistrates Court should proceed on the basis of a need to get matters right first time; any suggestion of a culture readily permitting an opportunity to correct failures of preparation should be firmly dispelled". In this case "the refusal of the adjournment may well have been a robust case management decision by the justices, if so, it was none the worse for that. On any view, I am wholly unable to conclude that the decision was one to which the Bench was not entitled to come".


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