Law Commission begins criminal appeals review

On Thursday 27 July 2023, the Law Commission published a paper asking for views on whether and how the law governing appeals for criminal cases should be reformed.

The Law Commission is reviewing the law to ensure that courts have powers that enable the effective, efficient and appropriate resolution of appeals.

In recent years, there have been worries about the piecemeal way in which the law governing criminal appeals has developed. Several bodies – including the Justice Select Committee and the Westminster Commission on Miscarriages of Justice – have argued that there is a need for reform. There have been calls to review various aspects of the law governing appeals, such as whether the tests used to grant an appeal are just, and whether current arrangements enable the effective use of court resources.

In its issues paper, the Law Commission is seeking views from criminal law practitioners and those with experience of the criminal appeals process to identify problems with the current law that may be preventing the effective delivery of justice.

Commenting on the issues paper, Professor Penney Lewis, Criminal Law Commissioner said: “The appeals process is essential for rectifying miscarriages of justice and ensuring the fair and consistent application of the criminal law. In recent years, there have been many differing views on how this process can be improved to allow for the efficient and effective resolution of appeals. In our comprehensive review, we will consider proposals for reform that will ensure the appeals process provides a robust safeguard against wrongful convictions and instils confidence in the criminal justice system. We therefore welcome a wide range of responses to our issues paper to help us identify if there are areas of the law that are not working.”