Parashar v Sunderland Magistrates Court – Adjournment for a Defence Expert

The Court quashed a decision made by a District Judge refusing to vacate atrial where a prosecution expert could attend but a defence expert could not .
“This claim is for judicial review of a discretionary decision on an application made in advance to vacate a trial. As was made clear in Balogun v DPP (see paragraph 38 above) challenges to discretionary refusals or grants of applications to adjourn are difficult to mount and should only be commenced if the circumstances are exceptional. The same is true here, albeit I endorse the observations of Bean LJ that the threshold for exceptionality is likely to be less high where the application is made pre-trial.
I am in no doubt in this case that the district judge failed to exercise his discretion in accordance with the guidance in CPS v Picton (above). To insist on a trial date on which the prosecution expert was available but the defence expert was not was wrong and would have led to an unfair trial. There is a high public interest in summary trials taking place quickly and on the day set for trial, and in adjournments not being granted absent compelling reasons. But it is also necessary as a matter of fairness and in the interests of justice, where a defence request to vacate a trial date is made, to consider whether, if it is not granted, the defendant will be able fully to present his defence, and if he will not be able to do so, the degree to which the defence will be compromised. That was not done here. This is an exceptional case justifying this court’s intervention by way of judicial review.”

Categories: Caselaw

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