Single justice procedure
Produced in partnership with Quinton Newcomb of Fulcrum Chambers
Single justice procedure

The following Corporate Crime practice note produced in partnership with Quinton Newcomb of Fulcrum Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Single justice procedure
  • Qualifying cases
  • Procedure
  • Single Justice Procedure Notice
  • Relevant prosecutor
  • Single justice process
  • Time limits
  • Withdrawing a guilty plea
  • Inappropriate cases
  • Evidence
  • More...

The introduction of trial by a single justice was a response to a belief, on the part of the government, that the use of two or three justices to deal with high volume, low-level crime was disproportionate, expensive and wasteful. Examples of the sorts of offences that will qualify for trial by a single justice are speeding, driving without insurance, and TV licence evasion.

The single justice procedure was introduced on 13 April 2015 when the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 (CJCA 2015) enacted amendments to the relevant part of the Magistrates Courts Act 1980 (MCA 1980) and Criminal Justice Act 2003 (CJA 2003), respectively. The Criminal Procedure Rules 2020 (CrimPR), SI 2020/759 provide the procedural requirements.

Exclusively summary-only, non-imprisonable offences committed by adults can be dealt with by a single justice. Where the single justice procedure applies, the single justice can try the case on the basis of written material only, in the parties’ absence and without a hearing. Defendants still retain the right to a full hearing in open court. However, they may now waive that right or, if they fail to respond to communications from the court, they may be deemed to waive that right. This process will speed up the hearing of less serious offences and frees up magistrates’ courts time to deal with the more serious and complicated cases.


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