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Julian Christopher QC
Julian Christopher QC
1988 (QC 2010)

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Welcome to the 5PB Blog where you can find comments and thoughts on current legal topics.

Closing Speech Sandwiches

Some Judges at the Old Bailey have recently been adopting the practice of delivering their summing up in two parts - legal directions to the jury, including a written “Route to Verdict”, ahead of closing speeches, and the summary of the facts afterwards.  The Common Sergeant did so in the trial of Robert Norman, a Belmarsh prison officer who sold information to the Daily Mirror and the News of the World, and was charged with misconduct in a public office, which I was prosecuting;  the legal directions on the elements of the offence are fairly complex, and the advantage was that closing speeches could be tailored to the precise questions which the Judge had already given to the jury.
The practice was disapproved of, in passing, in an appeal from Isleworth Crown Court, R. v. NKA [2015] EWCA Crim. 614, CA, on the basis that it was contrary to the express provisions of the Criminal Procedure Rules and could lead to considerable confusion.  However, hidden amongst the changes now brought in by the 2015 Rules (SI 2015/1490) is r.25.14(2) which, no doubt with this in mind, provides that the court must give the jury directions about the relevant law “at any time at which to do so will assist jurors to evaluate the evidence”; only the summary of the evidence (now to be given “to such extent as is necessary”) and the provision of questions for the jury to answer in reaching their verdict are still required to come after closing speeches.  Sandwiching closing speeches in the middle of the summing up may be a growing trend.
The new rules take effect from 5th October 2015.

Posted by Julian Christopher QC on 15 October 2015 at 08:58