Objections and adjournments

Objections to matters raised

1. Any objection to the information or summons, and any questions relating to the evidence or other procedural matters which are in issue, should be argued before you open the prosecution case.

Objections to the summons

2. A summons must describe the offence in ordinary language, giving reasonable details of the nature of the charge without necessarily stating all the elements, and must refer to the section of the Act or the regulation creating the offence.1 However, the clerk or the defence may object to a summons on the grounds that:

  • it does not comply with the above requirements; or
  • is incorrect; or
  • the information discloses more than one offence ("duplicity").

3. The court may ignore trivial errors which do no injustice to the defence. 2 In other circumstances, you will be required to amend the information. 3

4. If the summons needs to be more specific, or there is an error such as the misdescription of premises or the wrong name, leave should be given to amend. Leave will not be given to allow the substitution of the name of a different person. 4

5. If the defence has been misled by the error, an application for adjournment should be granted. 5

6. If the defence applies at court for an information to be dismissed because it is bad for duplicity,6 you may be able to dispose of the objection by pointing out that you have not charged separate offences, but have specified a number of different ways of committing a particular offence. 7

7. If the information is void for duplicity, the magistrates will require you to choose which offence to proceed with. If you refuse to elect, the information will be dismissed. 8

8. Once you have elected, the other offence(s) will be struck off the information. However, you may lay a further information for the offence which is struck off. If the magistrates agree, the case can be adjourned for a short time to allow the additional information to be prepared and given to the defendant there and then. The court will proceed to try the informations afresh, subject to any adjournment if the defendant has been unfairly prejudiced.


9. A magistrates' court may adjourn the proceedings at any time. The court must balance the interests of justice when considering any application for an adjournment. The court cannot have hard and fast rules for the granting or refusal of adjournments.

10. A case should not be adjourned because civil proceedings are pending and may be prejudiced. If points which you could not reasonably have foreseen arise during a trial, you may ask for an adjournment to obtain further evidence, but the court will not readily accept such an application.

11. If a voluntary witness fails to attend at the hearing of the summons, you should request an adjournment and make an application for a witness summons. You should also be in a position to show that the witness promised to attend.

12. When a case is adjourned, you must ensure that you agree a new hearing date with the court and that the witnesses are told the new date. You should determine witness availability before agreeing to a new trial date.


  1. Part 7.3 CPR 2015. Back to reference of footnote 1
  2. For example, R v Norwich Crown Court, ex p. Russell [1993] Crim LR 518, DC: the defendant was convicted on an information giving the wrong date for the offence, but the Divisional Court held that there had been no prejudice to the defendant; also in New Southgate Metals Ltd v London Borough of Islington [1996] Crim LR 334, the defendant was convicted on an information giving the wrong statute, but the Divisional Court again held that the full particulars of the offence had been accurately set out in the information and there was no prejudice to the defendant. Back to reference of footnote 2
  3. See Stone's [2008] 1-440. Back to reference of footnote 3
  4. Marco (Croydon) Ltd. v Metropolitan Police [1984] RTR 24, [1983] Crim LR 395, followed in R v Greater Manchester Justices, ex parte Aldi GmbH & Co. KG [1994] TLR 678, 28 December, drew a distinction between cases where the right person had received the summons and know it was intended for him and was not prejudiced in any way (amendment allowed) and those where the wrong defendant (of a group of companies) had been summonsed (amendment not permissible). Back to reference of footnote 4
  5. Morriss v Lawrence [1977] Crim LR 170. Back to reference of footnote 5
  6. For example, under the Power Presses Regulations 1965, reg.4(i): no person shall set, re-set, adjust or try out the tools on a power press. Back to the reference of footnote 6
  7. MCA 1980, s.10. Back to reference of footnote 7
  8. R v Evans (1890) 54 JP 471. Back to the reference of footnote 8

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Updated 2021-08-27