Related Sector: Expert Witness, , Investigations

The Criminal Procedure Rules 2015 came into force on 5th October 2015, replacing the amended Criminal Procedure Rules 2014. The new Rules have been rearranged to restore the order of the original Criminal Procedure Rules, so the numbering of the 2015 Rules differs from the numbering of the 2014 Rules. Here are some examples:

CrimPR 2014 Rule number

CrimPR 2015 Rule number

Part 22 Disclosure

Part 15 Disclosure

Part 10 Initial details of the prosecution case (magistrates’ court)

Part 8 Initial details of the prosecution case (magistrates' court)

Part 27 Witness statements

Part 16 Witness statements

Part 33 Expert evidence

Part 19 Expert evidence

Part 37 Trial and sentence in a magistrates’ court

Part 24 Part 37 Trial and sentence in a magistrates’ court


There are a number of substantive changes to the Rules, as can be seen below.

Who is affected by the changes?

The CrimPR apply to the parties to criminal proceedings and their witnesses (such as investigators and experts).

What are the main changes to be aware of?

Rule 3.3 (The duty of the parties)

There is now an explicit duty on the prosecutor and defendant to communicate with each other, at the first available opportunity and through to the conclusion of the case, on matters such as likely plea; agreed matters and matters likely to be disputed; what information or material is required from the other party and why; and what is to be done, by which party, and when. So an effective case analysis is important. 

Part 8 (Initial details of the prosecution case)

This part now applies in all cases in a magistrates’ court. Under Rule 8.3 (Content of initial details), if the defendant is in custody for the offence charged, the initial details of the prosecution case include a summary of the circumstances of the offence and  the defendant’s criminal record; if the defendant is not in custody, in addition to the summary and criminal record, the initial details include any account given by the defendant in interview, any available statement of the effect of the offence on a victim or others, and any available witness statement or exhibit that the prosecutor considers material to plea, to allocation of the case for trial, or to sentence. So effective preparation of the case file is important.

Rule 16.4 (Written witness statement in evidence)

Previously, under section 9 of the Criminal Justice Act 1967, if a party objected to a written witness statement being used as evidence instead of the witness giving oral evidence, the objection had to be made within 7 days.  This statutory time limit for objection applied in all circumstances.  Section 9 has been amended to allow the Criminal Procedure Rules to set the time limit.  Under Rule 16.4(4) the time limit for objection is usually 7 days, however, the court may extend it.  There are also different time limits where Rule 24.8 (Written guilty plea: special rules) or  Rule 24.9 (Single justice procedure: special rules) apply.

Rule 19.2 (Expert’s duty to the court)

There is now an explicit duty on expert witnesses to actively assist the court by complying with the court’s directions and informing the court of any significant failure to comply with such directions.  For example, if the court gives a direction specifying when the expert’s report must be served by, the expert must comply with that direction or otherwise inform the court of any substantial delay in serving the report.

Part 24 (Trial and sentence in a magistrate’s court) - Rule 24.5 (Evidence of a witness in writing); Rule 24.15 (Duty of justices’ legal adviser)

Part 25 (Trial and sentence in the Crown Court) – Rule 25.12 (Evidence of a witness in writing)

Previously, written witness statements had to be read aloud at trial even if everyone present had a copy of the statement. Rules 24 and 25 of CrimPR 2015 now cover the circumstances in which written witness statements (and other written material in the case of a written guilty plea in the magistrates’ court) must be read aloud in court.  Under these rules such written witness statements or material will be read aloud when any member of the public (including a reporter) is present in the courtroom, but usually not otherwise.

The CrimPR 2015 can be found at:

http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/criminal/rulesmenu-2015

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