Custody time limits

The following Corporate Crime practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Custody time limits
  • The effect of expiry of the custody time limits
  • When an application should be made to extend custody time limits
  • Criteria for extending the custody time limits
  • Good and sufficient cause
  • Due expedition
  • Assessing whether lack of safe court space during the pandemic is a ‘sufficient’ cause
  • Procedure for applying to extend the custody time limits

Custody time limits

The Prosecution of Offences (Custody Time Limits) Regulations 1987, SI 1987/299 (CTLR 1987), as amended, made under the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 (POA 1985), impose time limits on the length of time an accused can be kept in custody before their trial.

They impose the following maximum time limits:

  1. 70 days between the defendant’s first appearance in the magistrates’ court and committal proceedings

  2. 70 days between the defendant’s first appearance and summary trial for an offence that is triable either way, reduced to 56 days if the decision for summary trial is taken within 56 days

  3. 56 days between the defendant’s first appearance and the start of the summary trial for summary-only offence

  4. 112 days from the defendant’s committal for trial to their arraignment (when the defendant is asked in the Crown Court to plead guilty or not guilty). This does not apply to any defendant under the age of 18. Note that between 28 September 2020 and 28 June 2021, in response to the coronavirus (COVID–19) pandemic, the period was extended to 168 days in order to increase the time defendants could be kept in custody while awaiting trial in the Crown Court, enabling the courts to deal with the backlog of trials which developed in light of the coronavirus pandemic. This temporary extension of time, which was introduced by the Prosecution of Offences

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