The Key Cases of 2021

R v Finch (Simon James) [2021] 4 WLR 64

“The case was concerned with sentencing for the unauthorised recording and disclosure of Secret, Top Secret and Code Access information, highly prejudicial to national security. The sentence passed by the trial judge was referred to the Court of Appeal by the Solicitor General as unduly lenient. It prompted the court to consider the so-called ‘brightline rule’, laid down by Lord Griffiths in AG v Guardian Newspapers Ltd (No 2) [1990] 1 AC 109, and to apply that rule in the case of a defendant whose Autism/Aspergers undoubtedly impacted on his sense of grievance but not his ability to form the requisite intent ...”
ADDED Friday 11th June 2021
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Fernando v Sathananthan [2021] EWHC 652 (Admin)

“The case was concerned with the doctrine of residual diplomatic immunity enjoyed by former diplomats after they have left their diplomatic post in the foreign mission of their country ...”
ADDED Thursday 3rd June 2021
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R v AB [2021] EWCA Crim 692

“The case was concerned with historic sex offences and incest and related to the sentence passed on a defendant following a retrial involving a significant change of circumstance since the original convictions. It prompted the Court of Appeal to review what Fulford LJ described as the ‘deceptively simple’ wording of paragraph 2(1) of Schedule 2 to the Criminal Appeal Act 1968 and to give practical guidance on the approach to be taken by sentencing judges in order to ensure that the sentence passed following a retrial is not of ‘greater severity’ than that imposed first time around ...”
ADDED Tuesday 1st June 2021
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R v Thacker (Edward) [2021] 1 Cr App R 21

“The appeal related to an airport protest, in which human rights protesters took ‘direct action’ to stop a deportation light. It followed what the Lord Chief Justice described as ‘an extraordinarily difficult trial bristling with complex legal argument’ and prompted the court to consider the criminal offences created by the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990, the defence of necessity and challenges to the Law Officers’ consent to a prosecution ...”
ADDED Friday 28th May 2021
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R v Lea (Nicholas) [2021] 4 WLR 38

“The case was concerned with an appeal by a registered sex offender against the wording of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order. It prompted the Court of Appeal to review both the principles to be applied and the practical approach to be adopted when considering such orders. It also afforded the court an opportunity to discourage the launching of appeals by defendants with full capacity and the benefit of legal representation, who agree to the making of an order but then appeal on the basis of a subsequent change of heart ...”
ADDED Wednesday 26th May 2021
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R (Latif) v Secretary of State for Justice [2021] 4 WLR 61

“The case concerned the aftermath of the Fishmongers’ Hall terrorist attack, on 29 November 2019, in which two young people, Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones, were stabbed to death. Specifically, the court had to consider the lawfulness of the steps then taken by the Justice Secretary and the Probation Service to tighten the licence conditions of terrorist offenders released on licence ...”
ADDED Monday 24th May 2021
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R v Sakin (Ilhan) [2021] EWCA Crim 411

“The case concerned a highly unusual situation in which the official transcript provided for the purposes of a criminal appeal was inaccurate and incomplete and the initial hearing in the Court of Appeal proceeded on an entirely erroneous factual basis. Unfortunately, counsel failed to spot the error. For many of us, our immediate reaction when reading this judgment may be to think ‘There but for the Grace of God!’ but the harsh reality is that this case should serve as a wake-up call to both prosecution and defence advocates regarding their professional duties in paying close attention to and making an accurate and contemporaneous note of the key elements of the judge’s summing up to the jury ...”
ADDED Friday 21st May 2021
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R v Plaku (Isuf) [2021] EWCA Crim 568

“The judgment related to three unrelated sentencing appeals, which had been listed for hearing together since they all raised issues as to the correct approach to determining the appropriate reduction for a guilty plea ...”

ADDED Wednesday 19th May 2021
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R (Miller) v Prime Minister; Cherry v Advocate General for Scotland [2020] AC 373

“The case was concerned with the lawfulness of the advice given by the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to Her Majesty the Queen in late August 2019, to prorogue Parliament for a period of five weeks. As is obvious, it did not in fact relate to a criminal cause or matter. It did, however, prompt the Supreme Court to consider the extent to which the courts should be prepared to rule upon disputes regarding the conduct of politicians and issues of political controversy, a problem which has often taxed the courts in criminal appeals ...” ADDED Monday 17th May 2021
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R (Russnak-Johnston) v Reading Magistrates’ Court [2021] 1 WLR 2444

“The case was concerned with the nature of the different criminal offences relating to, on the one hand, failing to comply with the requirement of a planning contravention notice and, on the other hand, making false or misleading statements in purported compliance with such a requirement. It prompted the Divisional Court to analyse how those differences impacted on the six-month time limit for charging summary offences and to consider whether the power to require the provision of information extended to the provision of documents …”

ADDED Friday 14th May 2021
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R v MS [2021] EWCA Crim 600

“The case related to an indictment charging an attempt under the Criminal Attempts Act 1981 to commit the offence of international child abduction. It prompted the Court of Appeal to review the authorities on what is meant by an act which is ‘more than merely preparatory to the commission of the offence’ and to relate that concept to offences under the Child Abduction Act 1984 and to the issue of geographical proximity to a port of departure ...”

ADDED Wednesday 12th May 2021
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Meekey v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2021] 2 WLR 648

“The case was concerned with competing applications relating to a substantial cache of firearms seized some years ago in the course of Operation Trident. Specifically, there was an application by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, for their destruction and an application by the man from whom they were originally seized (and who had since served a sentence of imprisonment in that regard) for their return. It prompted the court to examine how the law on the conversion of chattels and the limitation of actions applies to applications under the Police (Property) Act 1897 and also to consider what evidence is required regarding the legal basis of the seizure in order to allow for an application for destruction under the Firearms Act 1968 …”

ADDED Monday 10th May 2021
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R v R [2021] 4 WLR 10

“The case was concerned with the notification requirements imposed on registered terrorist offenders who have been convicted of certain specified terrorist offences. This was an interlocutory application for permission to appeal, so the defendant is identified in the judgment only by the initial ‘R’ …”

ADDED Thursday 6th May 2021
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R v Muldoon (Jake) [2021] EWCA Crim 381

“The case was concerned with the situation where witnesses have made written statements which unambiguously support certain charges but, when they are called to give evidence, they in effect stand mute and refuse to answer any substantive questions. It prompted the court to consider whether such so-called ‘hostile silence’ entitles the prosecution to adduce the witnesses’ statements as hearsay evidence - either as previous inconsistent statements under s.119 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 or in the interests of justice under s.114(1)(d)...”

ADDED Tuesday 4th May 2021
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James v White Lion Hotel (a partnership) [2021] 2 WLR 911

“The case related to a tragic and fatal accident on hotel premises. It prompted the Court of Appeal to consider the intersection between criminal and civil liability and the practical relevance of a criminal conviction to subsequent civil proceedings. It likely to be of particular interest to those involved in or acting on behalf of the hospitality sector and for practitioners specialising in the field of health and safety ...”

ADDED Friday 30th April 2021
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London Borough of Barnet v Kamyab [2021] EWCA Crim 543

This was an appeal from a confiscation order following a conviction for breach of a planning enforcement notice and it raised two discrete issues. The Court of Appeal considered the scope and effect of the judgment handed down by a previous constitution of the court in R v Panayi (Andrew) [2019] 2 Cr App R (S) 21, which was itself the subject of a video case review in the CrimeCast series: ‘The Top 50 Cases of 2019’. And the court also reviewed its powers on an appeal by the prosecution under s.31(1) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 from a confiscation order made in the Crown Court (as distinct from a prosecution appeal under s.31(2) against a refusal to make a confiscation order). Specifically, the Court of Appeal had to decide whether it had power to remit the case to the Crown Court.

ADDED Wednesday 28th April 2021
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Privacy International v Investigatory Powers Tribunal (Foreign Secretary & GCHQ as Interested Parties) [2021] HRLR 1

“The case concerned the ambit of the Secretary of State’s power under s.5(2) of the Intelligence Services Act 1994 to issue warrants to the Government Communication Headquarters, authorising intelligence activities such as computer hacking. It prompted the court to review both the aversion of the common law to general warrants and the canon of statutory interpretation known as ‘the principle of legality’ and then to consider the lawfulness of so-called ‘thematic’ warrants aimed at an entire class of persons or category of equipment ...”

ADDED Tuesday 27th April 2021
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R v T [2021] EWCA Crim 318

“The case arose from charges of marital rape and was concerned with the provisions restricting the cross-examination of a complainant about her sexual history. It prompted the Court of Appeal to consider the operation of section 41 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 and, in particular, whether it applies to questions about sexual orientation and sexual identity ...”

ADDED Friday 23rd April 2021
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“The case was concerned with an appeal against conviction based on a supposed lack of balance in the trial judge’s summing up of the facts. The court emphasised the imperative need for counsel not simply to sit on their hands and take their chances in the Court of Appeal, but to raise with the trial judge any issues they have with his or her summing up. And the court also made some general observations about the nature and purpose of the summing up on the facts …”

ADDED Monday 19th April 2021
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R (Bussetti) v Director of Public Prosecutions [2020] EWHC 3004 (Admin)

“The case was concerned with a prosecution relating to what was said to be a grossly offensive video, sent via WhatsApp and later posted on YouTube, allegedly mocking the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. It prompted the Divisional Court to consider the nature of an appeal by way of case stated, the constraints placed on the High Court as regards the evidence to which it can refer on such an appeal and the minimum requirements for the contents of the written Case Stated for the opinion of the court ...”

ADDED Wednesday 14th April 2021
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R v Daniels (Nathan) [2021] EWCA Crim 44

“The case was concerned with an alleged gangland execution in the course of the illicit trade in illegal drugs. It prompted the Court of Appeal to stress the need for a robust approach to be taken to the whole concept of ‘professional embarrassment’ and to highlight the degree of care required before trial lawyers take what Fulford LJ described as the ‘grave step’ of withdrawing from a case ...”

ADDED Monday 12th April 2021
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R (Begum) v Special Immigration Appeals Commission [2021] 2 WLR 556

“The case related to Shamima Begum, the so-called ISIS child bride, and her attempts to force the government to let her back into the country by contesting decisions taken by the former Home Secretary, Sajid Javid MP, stripping her of her British passport and refusing her entry clearance and leave to re-enter the UK. In July 2020, the Court of Appeal ruled that she should be allowed to return, in order to contest those decisions. The present Home Secretary, Priti Patel MP, appealed to the Supreme Court …”

ADDED Friday 9th April 2021
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R (Finch) v Surrey County Council [2021] 4 WLR 37

“The case was concerned with an incident in which the BBC managed to broadcast on one of its main regional news programmes an unauthorised recording of a hearing which had been conducted by video link before a High Court judge. It prompted the Divisional Court to survey the various statutes which place restrictions on the recording and broadcasting of legal proceedings in this country and to relate that regime to the arrangements put in place by the Coronavirus Act 2020 for the conduct of remote hearings ...”

ADDED Thursday 8th April 2021
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Collins (John Kenneth) v Director of Public Prosecutions [2021] EWHC 634 (Admin)

“This was an appeal by way of case stated relating to the enforcement of a confiscation order imposed in the wake of the notorious Hatton Garden job, which has been described as ‘the largest burglary in English legal history’ and which has already been the subject of no fewer than three feature films and a major 4-part television serial. The point raised on the appeal was described by Edis LJ as ‘novel and short’ and related to the calculation of the default terms of imprisonment where members of a criminal gang are each made the subject of confiscation orders based at least in part on the value of criminal property which they together acquired in the course of a joint enterprise or as the result of a criminal conspiracy ...”

ADDED Wednesday 7th April 2021
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Hamilton v Post Office Ltd [2021] EWCA Crim 21

"The case was concerned with a raft of appeals in prosecutions brought by the Post Office against against sub-postmasters and post-mistresses on charges of false accounting, theft and fraud. It prompted the Court of Appeal to consider the circumstances in which an appellant will be allowed to argue a particular ground of appeal against conviction even though the court has already decided that the appeal must be allowed and the conviction quashed on other grounds..."

ADDED Tuesday 6th April 2021
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R v A, B, D & C [2021] EWCA Crim 128

“The issue on the appeal was whether communications obtained by the French authorities from the EncroChat secure communication system and then supplied by the French to UK law enforcement were properly admissible in criminal proceedings in England and Wales or were excluded by the provisions of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. The background was that, from around 2016 onwards, there had developed within international law enforcement a consensus that EncroChat was being used exclusively by criminals as a secure, encrypted means of communication …”

ADDED Wednesday 31st March 2021
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R (End Violence Against Women Coalition) v Director of Public Prosecutions [2021] EWCA Civ 350

“The case was concerned with the developing approach taken by the Crown Prosecution Service to charging decisions arising from allegations of Rape or Serious Sexual Offences (otherwise known as RASSO cases).”

ADDED Monday 29th March 2021
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R (KBR Inc) v Director of the Serious Fraud Office [2021] 2 WLR 335

“The appeal arose from an investigation undertaken by the Serious Fraud Office into allegations of international corruption. It was concerned with the true construction of the power vested in the Director of the SFO by section 2(3) of the Criminal Justice At 1987 to serve a notice requiring the production of specified documents appearing to him or her to relate to any matter relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation into suspected offences of serious or complex fraud. Specifically, the issue before the court was whether that subsection had extra-territorial effect and could be deployed to compel the production of documents held overseas by a foreign-registered corporation with no registered office or fixed place of business in the UK and never having carried on business here ...”

ADDED Tuesday 23rd March 2021
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