1. If the defendant pleads not guilty or declines to indicate a plea at the magistrates' court, a mode of trial hearing will take place. If the Magistrates decline jurisdiction or the defendant elects to be tried at the Crown Court, the case will be adjourned for committal proceedings.
2. Committal proceedings will be in one of two forms, depending on whether the defendant wishes to challenge the strength of the evidence at the committal stage.
3. If the defendant does wish to challenge the evidence, committal proceedings will take place under section 6(1) of the Magistrates Courts Act 1980 (MCA 1980): the magistrates, sitting as examining justices, will consider the statements and exhibits tendered by the prosecution. There will be no oral evidence and the defence are not entitled to present any evidence at all, documentary or otherwise. After considering the evidence, which is read out, and hearing submissions from both parties, the court will decide whether there is sufficient evidence to put the defendant on trial by jury. If the court finds that there is, the defendant is committed to the Crown Court to stand trial. If the court finds that there is not, the defendant is discharged.
4. If the defendant does not wish to challenge the evidence at the committal stage s/he may agree to committal proceedings taking place under section 6(2) of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980, in which case there will be no consideration of the evidence. These proceedings are known as "paper"y committals: the original signed statements (or a copy of the signed statements) are served on the court at the hearing. The evidence is not read to the court. As soon as it is known that committal proceedings are to be held, the defendant's agreement to this form of committal should be sought.
5. All committal proceedings should be conducted by a solicitor1 or counsel.
6. Where there has been a delay, examining Justices have an inherent jurisdiction to refuse to commit on the grounds that to do so would be an abuse of process.
7. When a case is adjourned for committal you should instruct a solicitor agent to appear for HSE, the solicitor agent will in due course contact the Legal Adviser’s Office to arrange for counsel to be nominated to represent HSE in the Crown Court. Only Counsel approved by the Attorney General can represent government departments including HSE. In your instructions remind the Solicitor agent of this procedure i.e. contacting LAO, which must be complied with. Once counsel has been nominated, no other counsel can be instructed to act without reference to Legal Adviser’s Office.
8. Solicitor Agents should be reminded in their instructions that in the event of conviction, the application for costs should be in a specific sum and should include the investigation costs.
9. The solicitor will be able to advise in detail on the contents of the committal bundle, i.e. which statements and documentary exhibits to tender at the committal stage. However the bundle must contain sufficient evidence to cover every element of the offences charged, and ought to deal with the reasonably practicable steps the defendant could have taken to comply with the relevant duty. Tapes and records of interviews conducted under PACE should be exhibited by a statement in the bundle. Expert evidence relied on should be included in a statement2.
10. The bundle should not include statements that damage the prosecution case, statements by those whose evidence is considered unreliable, and by those who are potentially hostile to the prosecution. This is very important because the Prosecution may be obliged to call witnesses at trial it would prefer not to, because their statements were tendered at committal. (If, ultimately, the witness is not called, their statement would be unused material.)
11. The statements used at committal must be signed and must contain a signed declaration to the following effect (in compliance with Section 9 of the Criminal Justice Act 1967):
"This statement is true to the best of my knowledge and belief and I make it knowing that, if it is tendered in evidence, I shall be liable to prosecution if I have wilfully stated in it anything which I know to be false or do not believe to be true."
12. Statement form LP70 includes the required declaration. Note that statement form LP7, used for information compelled under Section 20(2)(j) HSWA does not include the declaration. Such statements are not admissible for the purpose of committing a case to the Crown Court. Also see Collecting Witness Evidence – Witness Statements
13. For committal prepare a
14. The evidence to be used at committal should be placed in the tendered statements and tendered exhibits bundles, which should be paginated and tagged. These statements should be typed.
15. In cases with one defendant you should prepare 6 bundles of statements and exhibits to be tendered in addition to the originals, and 3 bundles of unused statements and exhibits in cases. Add an extra copy of each bundle for each additional defendant, even if more than one defendant is represented by the same solicitor.
16. The bundles should begin with an index in the following format:
|IN THE WX MAGISTRATES' COURT|
|R -v- YZ ENTERTAINMENT LTD|
|BUNDLE OF TENDERED STATEMENTS|
|1||A B||01.01.01||1 to 3|
|2||C D||01.01.01||4 to 6|
|3||E F||01.01.01||7 to 10|
|R-v- YZ ENTERTAINMENT LTD|
|BUNDLE OF TENDERED EXHIBITS|
|1||AB1||Sketch Plan||1 to 2|
|2||AB2||Album of 7 photographs||3 to 9|
|3||CD1||Length of cast iron pipe|
|4||EF1||Tenancy Agreement dated 09.09.99||10 to 14|
17. The same format should be used for the bundles of unused statements and unused exhibits. They form part of the unused material in the case. Chapter 5 (Pre-Trial Procedure) deals with the prosecution's duty to disclose unused material. Any question about unused material should be referred to Legal Adviser's Office.
18. The statements should be in an order that describes the incident chronologically. The exhibits should be in the same order as they are exhibited in the tendered statements bundle.
19. The tendered statements should produce any exhibits by saying something like "I produce a sketch plan of the premises as my exhibit AB1," using the initials of the person who made the statement. Any photographs should be exhibited individually in the statement, unless they are in an album, in which case "an album of x photographs" should be exhibited as one exhibit. There should be an index on the album describing the photographs individually. The statement should say when and where the photographs were taken and what each photograph shows. Colour photocopies of photographs are acceptable for committal bundles.
20. Where additional documentary evidence is served, a party should paginate following on from the last page of the previous bundle or in a logical and sequential manner. A party should also provide notification of service of any amended index.
21. The prosecution must ensure that the running total of the pages of prosecution evidence is easily identifiable on the most recent bundle of prosecution evidence
22. Non-documentary exhibits should be retained by you until the Crown Court trial. They should be included in the lists of tendered exhibits and unused exhibits as appropriate. You should arrange before committal for the defence to have an opportunity to examine them if they wish.
23. If there is any doubt about the bundles, you should not serve them until legal advice has been obtained from the solicitor.
24. The tendered statements and tendered exhibits should be served on the defence solicitors as soon as possible. When they are served on the defence solicitors they should be accompanied by forms LP17 and a witness requirement form to be completed by the defence.
25. One set of tendered statements and exhibits should be retained, and two sent to the solicitor.
26. The committal hearing should be conducted by the solicitor or counsel. You should arrive at court at least half an hour before the case is due to start. Introduce yourself to the prosecuting advocate. Remember that s/he will need the original signed statements (or copies of them) at the hearing.
27. Following committal, the defendant’s legal representatives have 14 days to notify the prosecution whether or not they object to any of the witness statements in the bundle being read at trial. If no objections are received, then it may be that those statements will simply be read and the witness will not be called to give evidence3.