Reporting allocation proceedings
1. Following the phased abolition of committal proceedings on 18 June 2012 and abolition throughout England and Wales from 28 May 2013, section 52A Crime and Disorder Act 1998 deals with reporting restrictions. Section 52A was inserted by section 41 and para 19(1) of Schedule 3 to the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and replaces the provisions in s8 Magistrates Court Act 1980.
2. As a general rule, you may not publish details of any allocation proceedings other than certain specified matters1. Reports of evidence received in allocation proceedings can be published where the magistrates court is required to proceed as mentioned in section 20(7) of the 1980 Act2. If the defendant indicates a guilty plea the court shall proceed as if the proceedings constituted from that time the summary trial of the information and a guilty plea is entered3 or after the conclusion of the full trial 4.
3. Subject to hearing representations from the defendant the court may order that reporting restrictions be lifted in allocation proceedings5 . If the defendant objects to lifting the restrictions, the court will make the order if, and only if, it is satisfied after hearing representations from the defendant that it is in the interests of justice to do so 6. The same principle applies in the case of two or more defendants when one objects, again the court will only make the order if it is in the interests of justice to do so 7. The decision to lift reporting restrictions cannot be made in the absence of a co-accused 8.
4. Regardless of the above, where it appears to be necessary for avoiding a substantial risk of prejudice to the administration of justice in those proceedings, or in any other proceedings pending or imminent, magistrates:
- retain a general power to postpone reports of any evidence;
- can order that the publication of any report of the proceedings be postponed for such period as the court thinks necessary for that purpose; 9
- Further guidance on Reporting Restrictions in the Criminal Courts June 2014.
- CDA 1998 s52A(7). Back to reference of footnote 1
- CDA 1998 s52A(6)(a). Back to reference of footnote 2
- MCA 1980, s.20(7). Criminal Justice Act 2003 (Commencement No.28 and Saving Provisions) Order 2012, brought amendments to the 1980 Act in Schedule 3 into force on 18th June 2012. Back to reference of footnote 3
- CDA s 52A(6)(b). Back to reference of footnote 4
- CDA s52A(2). Back to reference of footnote 5
- CDA s52A(3). Back to reference of footnote 6
- CDA s52A(4). Back to reference of footnote 7
- See R v Wirral District Magistrates Court ex parte Meikle  Crim LR 801. Back to reference of footnote 8
- CCA 1981 s4(2). See ex parte The Telegraph Group Plc and others  EWCA 1075, 1 WLR 1983 on the tests to be applied to determine whether it is "necessary" under section 4(2) of the 1981 Act to postpone reporting of a trial. Back to reference of footnote 9