C v Sevenoaks Youth Court [2009] EWHC 3088 (Admin)

(1) When trying a young child, and most particularly a child such as C who is only 12 with learning and behavioural difficulties, notwithstanding the absence of any express statutory power, the Youth Court has a duty under its inherent powers and under the Criminal Procedure Rules to take such steps as are necessary to ensure that he has a fair trial, not just during the proceedings, but beforehand as he and his lawyers prepare for trial; in this case, C required an intermediary. (2) As the MoJ had voluntarily accepted responsibility for the payment of intermediaries, the LSC decision not to provide funding was lawful. (3) The CPS decision to continue with the trial was lawful.

Extract from judgment

33. I summarise my conclusions:

  • a) an intermediary should be appointed to help "C" to prepare for the trial in advance of the hearing and during the trial so that he may effectively participate in the trial process;
  • b) that appointment is not made pursuant to a special measures direction under the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999, but pursuant to the court's inherent powers;
  • c) the decision of the justice's clerk revoking the appointment should be quashed;
  • d) the courts have no power to order payment of such an intermediary out of central funds;
  • e) the purported payment of intermediaries for defendants out of central funds as a species of interpreter is without statutory authority;
  • f) I commend the voluntary acceptance by the MOJ of the costs of paying for intermediaries appointed to assist defendants, but the courts cannot order such payments to be made;
  • g) the Legal Services Commission have the power to order payment of intermediaries for defendants as a disbursement under their standard form contract;
  • h) in the light of the voluntary acceptance of the costs of an intermediary by the MOJ, the Legal Services Commission were justified in refusing to fund the intermediary themselves, but if funding from the MOJ is refused or fails to materialise they must reconsider the matter in the light of their power to make payment themselves;
  • i) if clause 33 of the Coroners and Justice Bill is passed in something similar to its existing form, then urgent amendments must be made to the regulations to give authority to the courts to order payment of the intermediaries' reasonable fees and expenses out of central funds. Regulations might perhaps usefully authorise payment for work done both before, during, and indeed after the trial;
  • j) the decision by the CPS to pursue "C" to trial is entirely proper and I would not interfere to stop the prosecution. The CPS and the court must continue to monitor the fairness of the trial and "C"'s fitness to be tried.

Notes

R (S) v Waltham Forest Youth Court (2004) EWHC 715 Admin[1] distinguished.

External link

This case on Bailii