Source: All England Reporter
Publisher Citation: [2008] All ER (D) 197 (Jun)
Court: Queen's Bench Division, Divisional Court

Richards LJ and Mackay J

Representation Shirley Hennessy (instructed by the Crown Prosecution Service, Gloucester) for the prosecution.
Judgment Dates: 17 June 2008


Magistrates - Jurisdiction - Application to vary ruling made at pre-trial hearing - Abuse of process - Deputy district judge revisiting decision of earlier bench to amend charge to be faced by defendant - Deputy district judge staying proceedings as abuse of process - Whether deputy district judge in error - s 8B.

The Case

On a strict reading of s8B of the the grounds for varying an order that had been made at a pre-trial hearing where the court acted of its own motion were simply that the variation was in the interests of justice, whereas there was the additional requirement of a material change of circumstances where a party applied for such a variation. However, it was difficult to accept that it could be in the interests of justice for the court to annul or discharge its own ruling without a compelling reason to do so, such as changed circumstances or fresh evidence. It was not sufficient that a different bench reached a different conclusion on the same material. In all the circumstances, the deputy district judge had erred in reversing an earlier decision to amend the charge that the defendant would face and in staying the proceedings as an abuse of process in the light of the delay in applying for that amendment.

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