On the 7th October 2019 the Criminal Procedure Rules (CPR) are to be amended. One of the amendments relates to establishing the terms of the indictment and taking the defendant’s plea in the crown court. This amendment follows the Court of Appeal’s ruling in the case of R v Johnson, R v Burton (2018) EWCA Crim 2845, in which Rebecca Upton defended Mr. Johnson.
He had been tried and convicted on an indictment which contained additional counts to those put to him at PTPH. The Prosecution uploaded the second indictment after he was arraigned, but prior to trial. No application to amend the indictment was made, and therefore Mr Johnson was never arraigned on the additional counts. The case had a protracted history, and the trial did not start until over 16 months after PTPH. It was only post verdicts that the failure to apply to amend and arraign was noted.
The Court of Appeal heard detailed arguments about when an indictment is preferred and the effect of no plea being taken. The previous rules and law not taking in to account the advent of the digital case system now used in Crown Court cases. The members of the Criminal Procedure Rules Committee were present in Court to listen to the arguments. It was accepted in Mr Johnson’s case that he had suffered no prejudice as a result of the procedural errors, but it was said nonetheless that the proceedings against him had not been valid.
The Court ruled against Mr Johnson, however the observations made in the judgment of Sir Brian Leveson at paragraphs 53 and 54 have led to the amendments (paragraphs 7.1-7.4).
See the full details of the amendments here.