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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.
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:
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.
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