Appeal Timetable


Sup Ct: Lord Woolf CJ: 8 March 2004

When listing appeals in the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) regard would be had, where possible, to an advocate’s existing commitments. However, in general, an advocate’s commitment in a lower court would not be regarded as a good reason for failing to accept a date proposed for a hearing in the Court of Appeal.

Lord Woolf CJ so stated in the Supreme Court when handing down an amendment to Practice Direction (Criminal Proceedings: Consolidation) [2002] 1 WLR 2870.

Lord Woolf CJ said that the practice direction amended the consolidated criminal practice direction handed down by his Lordship on 8 July 2002. An additional section, set out below, is added to Part II of the consolidated practice direction.

II.2 Listing of appeals against conviction and sentence in the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division).

II.2.1 Arrangements for the fixing of dates for the hearing of appeals will be made by the Criminal Appeal Office listing officer, under the superintendence of the Registrar of Criminal Appeals who may give such directions as he deems necessary.

II.2.2 Where possible, regard will be had to an advocate’s existing commitments. However, in relation to the listing of appeals, the Court of Appeal takes precedence over all lower courts, including the Crown Court. Wherever practicable a lower court will have regard to this principle when making arrangements to release an advocate to appear in the Court of Appeal. In case of difficulty the lower court should communicate with the registrar. In general an advocate’s commitment in a lower court will not be regarded as a good reason for failing to accept a date proposed for a hearing in the Court of Appeal.

II.2.3 The copy of the Criminal Appeal Office summary provided to advocates will contain the summary writer’s time estimate for the whole hearing including delivery of judgment. The listing officer will rely on that estimate unless the advocate for the appellant or the Crown provides a different time estimate to the listing officer, in writing, within seven days of the receipt of the summary by the advocate. Where the time estimate is considered by an advocate to be inadequate, or where the estimate has been altered because, for example, a ground of appeal has been abandoned, it is the duty of the advocate to inform the court promptly, in which event the registrar will reconsider the time estimate and inform the parties accordingly.

II.2.4 In furtherance of the court’s aim of continuing to improve the service provided to appellants and respondents the following target times will be set for the hearing of appeals. Target times will run from the receipt of the appeal by the listing officer, as being ready for hearing. These arrangements will apply to appeals so received on and after 22 March 2004.

Nature of appeal From receipt by listing officer to fixing of hearing date From fixing of hearing date to hearing Total time from receipt by listing officer to hearing
Sentence appeal 14 days 14 days 28 days
Conviction appeal 21 days 42 days 63 days
Conviction appeal where witness to attend 28 days 52 days 80 days

II.2.6 Where legal vacations impinge these periods may be extended. Where expedition is required, the registrar may direct that these periods be abridged.

II.2.7 “Appeal” includes an application for leave to appeal which requires an oral hearing.


There is a time-limit of 28 days from the date of sentence (meaning the date the Jury returned it’s verdict) within which any application by a Law Officer for leave to refer must be lodged with the Registrar of Criminal Appeals: Schedule 3(1) CJA 1988 (Archbold, 7-306).

The 28 day time limit is absolute. There is no power at all to extend it or to apply for leave to refer out of time.

This makes it fundamentally important that action taken in respect of ULS cases is taken expeditiously to ensure that the Law Officers have time to consider properly submissions on ULS cases and to avoid either cases missing the 28 day time limit or applications being lodged at the last minute.

With emergency cases, when the time limit is soon to expire, Areas should telephone Casework Directorate to advise that a case is to be submitted.

When calculating the 28 day time limit period, all days count – weekend days and bank holidays, not including the day of sentence; therefore, the time-limit will expire at close of the court office business day at the end of the same day of the week, four weeks after sentence.

Areas will have local procedures so that cases in which ULS references are commonly considered (for example, death/driving cases; rape; robbery; and manslaughter), are closely monitored from the outset by an experienced member of staff so that no time is lost if consideration has to be given to a reference. Additionally, CPS Areas should arrange for all sentencing hearings for offences within the ULS regime, to be attended by the prosecuting advocate and/or The CPS to ensure that there is no delay in the event of an unduly lenient sentence reference having to be considered.

Appeals are difficult to obtain, they can take a long time and are expensive. All work that you can do for yourself will help towards the time period and expense. Obtaining a solicitor to represent you on a pro bono basis is rare.


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