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Indictable Offences Tried Without an Indictment

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The House of Lords has affirmed that a degree of strictness still applies to particular statutory formalities in criminal procedure, despite a general sympathy for informality in the current law. Specifically, the House has overturned convictions entered after a trial of indictable offences where the indictment was signed, in Lord Bingham's words, "at the eleventh hour" – after the close of evidence, just before the jury retired to consider its verdicts. This note examines the basis of the decision; whether the decision reflects a change in judicial attitude to formalities in criminal proceedings; and their Lordships' contention that trials of indictable offences can sometimes be conducted without an indictment, and so without criminal jurisdiction.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2009

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  • Until 2007 the King's Law Journal was known as the King's College Law Journal. It was established in 1990 as a legal periodical publishing scholarly and authoritative Articles, Notes and Reports on legal issues of current importance to both academic research and legal practice. It has a national and international readership, and publishes refereed contributions from authors across the United Kingdom, from continental Europe and further afield (particularly Commonwealth countries and USA). The journal includes a Reviews section containing critical notices of recently published books.

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