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In magistrates' court

1. Magistrates' courts do have the power to halt proceedings on the ground of abuse of process but this should be confined to matters directly relating to the fairness of the trial, such as delay or unfair manipulation of court procedures.

2. The appropriate court for exercising the wider supervisory power for upholding the rule of law is the High Court. 1 Even where the complaint concerns the fairness of the trial process itself, the magistrates can decline to deal with the point and leave the matter to be taken to the High Court because of the complexity or novelty of the point, or the length of the investigation that would be needed. 2


  1. R v Horseferry Road Magistrates Court ex parte Bennett [1994] 1 A.C. 42
  2. R v Belmarsh Magistrates Court ex parte Watts [1999] 2 Cr.App.R. 188
Updated 2009-07-07