Practice Directions Applicable to Criminal Appeals Contents




  'Before judgments are delivered today, I wish to make the following statement on behalf of myself and the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary:

  "Their Lordships regard the use of precedent as an indispensable foundation upon which to decide what is the law and its application to individual cases. It provides at least some degree of certainty upon which individuals can rely in the conduct of their affairs, as well as a basis for orderly development of legal rules.

  "Their Lordships nevertheless recognise that too rigid adherence to precedent may lead to injustice in a particular case and also unduly restrict the proper development of the law. They propose therefore to modify their present practice and, while treating former decisions of this House as normally binding, to depart from a previous decision when it appears right to do so.

  "In this connection they will bear in mind the danger of disturbing retrospectively the basis on which contracts, settlements of property and fiscal arrangements have been entered into and also the especial need for certainty as to the criminal law.

  "This announcement is not intended to affect the use of precedent elsewhere than in this House."'





  'My Lords, with the leave of the House, before the reports from the Appellate Committees are considered, I should like to make a statement on Recommendation 59 of the Royal Commission on the Reform of the House of Lords. That recommendation is that "The Lords of Appeal should set out in writing and publish a statement of the principles which they intend to observe when participating in debates and votes in the second chamber and when considering their eligibility to sit on related cases.".

  'I should tell the House that my noble and learned friends have considered this recommendation and have agreed on the terms of a statement to give effect to it. I will now read the statement which has been agreed by all the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary:

General Principles

  "As full members of the House of Lords the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary have a right to participate in the business of the House. However, mindful of their judicial role they consider themselves bound by two general principles when deciding whether to participate in a particular matter, or to vote: first, the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary do not think it appropriate to engage in matters where there is a strong element of party political controversy; and secondly the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary bear in mind that they may render themselves ineligible to sit judicially if they were to express an opinion on a matter which might later be relevant to an appeal to the House.

  "The Lords of Appeal in Ordinary will continue to be guided by these broad principles. They stress that it is impossible to frame rules which cover every eventuality. In the end it must be for the judgment of each individual Lord of Appeal to decide how to conduct himself in any particular situation.


  "In deciding who is eligible to sit on an appeal, the Lords of Appeal agree to be guided by the same principles as apply to all judges. These principles were restated by the Court of Appeal in the case of Locabail (UK) Ltd v. Bayfield Properties Ltd and others and four other actions [2000 1 All E.R. 65 (CA)]."

  'My Lords, that concludes the statement.'

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