Criminal Law Update, series 1: issue 8

1 January 2007

References to Criminal Law Week are abbreviated to CLW with the year, issue and paragraph number given.

Important Changes to the Bail Act: in force 01/01/2007

The Criminal Justice Act (Commencement No 14 and Transitional provisions) Order 2006 (S.I. 2006 No. 3217) brings into effect on 1st January 2007 the provisions of sections 14 and 15 (1) and (2) of the CJA 2003 which amend the provisions of the Bail Act 1976 in respect of bail for offences committed when the accused was already on bail (s.14) and those who abscond when on bail (s.15).

The changes, which only apply to offences for which the maximum sentence is life imprisonment (e.g. rape, s.18 wounding) impose a more onerous test for the grant of bail.

Section 14 (1) substitutes a new paragraph 2A of Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Bail Act 1976 for the original para (which provides that a defendant need not be granted bail if he was on bail at the time of the alleged offence). The new paragraph requires the court to refuse bail to an adult defendant who was on bail in criminal proceedings at the date of the offence, unless the court is satisfied that there is no significant risk that he would commit an offence if released on bail.

Section 14 (2) adds a new paragraph 9AA to Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Bail Act 1976, which provides that where a defendant under the age of 18 is on bail in criminal proceedings on the date an offence was committed particular weight can be given to this fact when the court is deciding whether he or she would be likely to re-offend if released on bail.

Section 15 (1) substitutes a new paragraph 6 in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the 1976 Act whish requires the court to refuse bail to an adult defendant who failed without reasonable cause to surrender to custody in answer to bail in the same proceedings, unless the court is satisfied that there is no significant risk that he would so fail if released.

Subsection (2) adds a new paragraph 9AB after para. 9AA which requires the court, in the case of defendants under 18, to give particular weight to the fact that they have failed to surrender to bail, in assessing the risk of future absconding.

The amended provisions of the Bail Act can be found in Archbold 2007 at paras 3-48 and 3-50.

Mark George

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