QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
Strand. London. WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
MR JUSTICE WYN WILLIAMS
| HAMPSHIRE POLICE AUTHORITY
|- and -
The Respondent did not appear and was not represented
Hearing dates: 14 January 2009
Crown Copyright ©
Mr Justice Wyn Williams :
(1) Does Rule 7(5) of the Crown Court Rules 1982 Part III apply to appeals against Closure Orders so as to allow the Court a discretion to grant leave to appeal after the expiry of 21 days prescribed in the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 S6(2)?
Must appeals against Closure Orders made pursuant to S.6(2) Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 be lodged within 21 days, or must the appeal itself be heard by the Crown Court within 21 days?
(3) If the Crown Court does have the discretion to grant leave to appeal after the expiry of 21 days, in what circumstances should leave be granted?
(4) Was the decision to grant leave to appeal out of time in this case wrong in the light of the facts and the reason put forward by the Respondent for not appealing within time?
Relevant Background and Facts
The Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003
"(1) This section applies to premises if a police officer not below the rank of superintendent (the authorising officer) has reasonable grounds for believing-
(a) that at any time during the relevant period the premises have been used in connection with the unlawful use, production or supply of a Class A controlled drug, and
(b) that the use of the premises is associated with the occurrence of disorder or serious nuisance to members of the public......
(2) The authorising officer may authorise the issue of a closure notice in respect of premises to which this section applies if he is satisfied-fa) that the local authority for the area in which the premises are situated has been consulted;
(b) that reasonable steps have been taken to establish the identity of any person who lives on the premises or who has control of or responsibility for or an interest in the premises."
Section 1(4) specifies the information which must be contained within a closure notice; section 1(5) provides that a notice must be served by a constable and section 1(6) makes detailed provisions about the manner of serving of a notice.
"(2) The application must be heard by the magistrates' court not later than 48 hours after the notice was served. . . ."
Sub-section (3) empowers the court to make a closure order if three statutory criteria are met. Sub-section (4) provides:-
"(4) A closure order is an order that the premises in respect of which the order is made are closed to all persons for such period (not exceeding three months) as the court decides."
Sub-section (6) empowers the court to adjourn the hearing on application for a period of not more than 14 days provided that certain statutory criteria are met and subsection (7) specifies that in the event of such an adjournment the court may order the closure notice should continue in effect until the end of the period of adjournment.
"(2) An appeal against an order or decision to which this section applies must be brought to the Crown Court before the end of the period of 21 days beginning with the day on which the order or decision is made. "
The Crown Court Rules 1982
"(1) Subject to the following provisions of this rule, this part of this rule shall apply to every appeal which by or under any enactment lies to the Crown Court from any court, tribunal or person except......
(2) Without prejudice to rule 7(5), this Part of these Rules shall have effect subject to the provisions of the enactments specified in Part I of Schedule 3 (being enactments which make special procedural provisions in respect of certain appeals), and those enactments shall have effect subject to the amendments set out in Part II of that Schedule (being amendments reproducing amendments made by rule 6(2) of, and Part II of Schedule 1 to, the Crown Court Rules 1971. "
Rule 7 contains a number of provisions relating to notices of appeal. Those which are relevant to the instant case are Rule 7(3) and 7(5). Rule 7(3) reads:-
"Notice of appeal shall be given not later than 21 days after the day on which the decision appealed against is given and, for this purpose, where the court has adjourned the trial of an information after conviction, that day shall be the day on which the court sentences or otherwise deals with offender. "
Rule 7(5) provides:-
"The time for giving notice of appeal(whether prescribed under paragraph (3) or under an enactment listed in Part I of Schedule 3) may be extended, either before or after it expires, by the Crown Court, on an application made in accordance to paragraph (6)."
"The closure order was issued on 6 October and an order was made by the magistrates on the 12th. An appeal was brought to the Crown Court, the notice of appeal being lodged on 26 October 2005. The hearing of the appeal was not fixed until 14 December 2005. That was far too long a delay since the order was for three months from 12 October. It is important that appeals against closure orders be heard by the Crown Court as soon as possible, ideally within a very few days of the lodging of the notice. Steps, in my judgment, should be taken by the courts to ensure that such appeals are given the necessary priority. "
"(4) An appeal under this section must be brought before -
(a) the end of the period of 28 days beginning with the relevant dates;
(b) such later time as the appeal authority may allow "
"Notice of appeal [against a District Judge's order for extradition] must be given in accordance with rules of Court before the end of...... 7 days starting with the day on which the order is made."
One of the points which concerned their Lordships was whether any power exists to extend that time limit. In summary, their Lordships reached the conclusion that no such power exists. It suffices for the purpose of this judgment to refer to paragraphs 73 to 80 in the speech of Lord Neuberger. In those paragraphs a full explanation is given as to why no power to extend the time limit exists in the face of a clear and unqualified statutory time limit.
Lord Justice Maurice Kay: