Royal Court trial dates (FOI)
Royal Court trial dates (FOI)Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by States of Jersey and published on 04 July 2017.
How many days away are the next available court dates when it comes to scheduling trial dates at the Royal Court?
What is the average length of time that defendants are waiting for their next court date at the Royal Court?
What steps are being taken to reduce the court backlog or the duration defendants are waiting before their next court date?
How many defendants are currently in custody waiting for their next court date?
Please note that the Bailiff’s Chambers is responsible for the scheduling of the Royal Court. The Bailiff’s Chambers is not a Scheduled Public Authority under the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011, but provides the following response to question 'A' and the first paragraph of the response to question 'C' in the interest of transparency.
It is assumed that all four questions seek information about criminal cases only.
The information was extracted on 26 June 2017.
If an assize trial had to be set on today 26 June 2017, a five day trial could take place on 20 November 2017. If a five day trial was required before the Inferior Number of the Court it could take place on 2 October 2017.
However, it is not possible to answer the question with accuracy as framed. The delay between the entry of a not guilty plea and the date fixed for a trial depends on a number of factors:
(a) the complexity (ie forensic investigations and such like) of the case may dictate when the Crown and defence counsel will be ready for trial
(b) the ability of key witnesses and experts to attend and give evidence
(c) the availability of court dates given other criminal and children’s cases having previously been listed for hearing. Priority for trial will be given to those cases where the defendant is in custody
(d) the manpower constraints in the Viscount’s Department and physical constraints in the Royal Court which make it impossible to hold more than one jury trial at any one time
The Bailiff’s Chambers don't hold a figure for the average time that defendants are waiting for the next court date at the Royal Court. To calculate such an average would firstly require definitions of the precise events which start and end a waiting period and then following those definitions we would need to extract figures from our files for all historical criminal cases over a long enough period to make a useful average. Just to extract the information for one year, approximately 110 cases, would exceed 12.5 hours work and therefore Article 16 of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011 applies.
The Bailiff’s Chambers does not think that the use of the word ‘backlog’ is appropriate as it carries assumptions which would not be accepted. The Royal Court is always anxious to keep delays in getting criminal cases from indictment to disposal to a minimum.
The response to question 'A' above, includes the range of factors and the balance which has to be struck in scheduling cases.
The following applies in relation to defendants held in custody.
Independent Prison Monitoring Board (IPMB):
Monitoring defendants who are held on remand is not part of the IPMB role as is stated in regulations. However, it is a matter which is discussed at the monthly meetings with the Governor as part of the prisoner population reports. The IPMB are provided with the reason why such individuals are held on remand and informed of the timescale likely to be expected until a court date is arranged.
The board have identified remand times as an area of prisoner welfare in which they will continue to monitor as the previous board of visitors did and would raise any issues with the Minister as they arise.
Please also refer to the 2016 Prison Board of Visitors report, which comments on remand times at paragraph 16.
As at 29 June 2017 there were 29 prisoners on remand at HMP La Moye awaiting their next Court appearance. This figure is in relation to both Magistrate’s Court and Royal Court appearances.
Exemptions and articles applied
Article 16 A scheduled public authority may refuse to supply information if cost excessive
(1) A scheduled public authority that has been requested to supply information may refuse to supply the information if it estimates that the cost of doing so would exceed an amount determined in the manner prescribed by Regulations.
Regulation 2 (1) of the Freedom of Information (Costs) (Jersey) Regulations 2014 allows an authority to refuse a request for information where the estimated cost of dealing with the request would exceed the specified amount of the cost limit of £500. This is the estimated cost of one person spending 12.5 working hours in determining whether the department holds the information, locating, retrieving and extracting the information.