New disclosure arrangements for unused material in summary cases

Defence to be provided with new Streamlined Disclosure Certificate at first hearing.

A new, more effective disclosure process is being made available to defence practitioners in summary cases. This was a key recommendation of the Magistrates’ Court Disclosure Review and is being implemented as part of the Transforming Summary Justice (TSJ) programme.

The new Streamlined Disclosure Certificate (SDC) follows revisions to the Crime and Procedure Act (CPIA) 1996 Code of Practice, which will change the procedure for the disclosure of unused material in summary cases.

These revisions are now going through Parliament and are expected to be approved by the end of March. In the meantime, where there is agreement with the defence, the SDC for unused material may be used by police forces and CPS areas who have implemented TSJ.

Timetable for roll-out

The plan is to introduce the SDC in the remaining areas as the TSJ roll-out is completed between March and May 2015.

In not guilty anticipated plea (NGAP) cases, the SDC will replace the current Manual of Guidance disclosure forms (the “MG6C/D/E” series.) It will be served, with the agreement of the defence, at or before first hearing, as part of the Initial Details of the Prosecution Case (IDPC).

In guilty anticipated plea (GAP) cases, a standardised form of written confirmation that the prosecution understand their common law duties of disclosure will be provided to the defence.

The advantages of the ‘Streamlined Disclosure Certificate’ are:

  • disclosure provided at first hearing
  • a simpler form
  • reduced delay

What other changes will be made?

First hearings in the magistrates’ courts will be split into dedicated ‘guilty’ and ‘not guilty’ plea courts:

  • ‘anticipated guilty plea’ cases will be listed within 14 days of charge, with the aim of dealing with them in one hearing
  • ‘anticipated not guilty’ plea cases will be listed 28 days after charge, allowing time for review and preparation before the first hearing