STRICTLY EMBARGOED UNTIL 6.00PM, WEDNESDAY, 12 JUNE, 2002
Law Reform Commission recommends overhaul of prosecution right of appeal for serious offences
Far greater right of appeal for prosecution should be considered says Commission
12 June, 2002: There is a compelling need to reform the law on prosecution appeals against acquittals for serious offences, according to the Law Reform Commission, in a consultation paper which has just been published.
The Law Reform Commission, a statutory body which advises the Government on the updating of the law, believes that the current near token system of prosecution appeals is too narrow.
As the law stands, the prosecution can appeal against leniency of sentence and against a trial judge's decision that the defence has no case to answer; but is powerless to challenge other rulings that fall short of a direction to acquit even when they determine the outcome of the trial. In the result, where such rulings are erroneous, they cannot be corrected and, by virtue of the doctrine of precedent, can distort the future development of the law.
The Commission has examined the reform of appeal systems throughout the common and civil law worlds. Based on this survey, the Commission believes that Irish law should move to a system in which prosecution appeals would represent a real and substantial element in the criminal process; and discusses several models for reform designed to achieve this objective.
Submissions have been invited from interested persons before 31 July, 2002, which will be considered along with views expressed at a seminar to be held before the Commission makes its Report and recommendations to Government.
For further information contact Philip Hannon, Gibney Communications, (01) 6610402, 087 2371841