"UNNECESSARY, UNHELPFUL & UNACCEPTABLE" : OVER-LONG SKELETON ARGUMENTS – AGAIN.

There have been a series of judgments in the civil courts, notably from Jackson L.J., commenting on the length of skeleton arguments.  The criminal courts are not immune. In R -v- Brandford [2016] EWCA Crim 1749 the Court of Appeal Criminal Division had strong words to say about the length of the skeleton arguments in the appeal.

THE POSTSCRIPT TO THE JUDGMENT

The postscript to the judgment contains strong words about the length of the submissions.

  1. We voice here two concerns; neither had any bearing on our decisions on the appeal and applications – but are both of some significance more generally.
  2. First, the length of the trial. After a plethora of pre-trial hearings, it would appear that the trial took some 54 days. We apportion no blame (if individual blame there was) but are troubled. This is not an advertisement for how the Criminal Justice System should work.
  3. Secondly, the length of written submissions from counsel. In respect of Brandford, we were provided with a 39 page submission for the conviction appeal and a further 15 page submission for the sentence appeal. In respect of Alford’s renewed application for leave to appeal sentence, we received a 26 page submission (incorporating 7 pages of transcription of the judge’s sentencing remarks) plus a 9 page addendum. Karemera’s renewed application for leave to appeal sentence generated a 27 page submission. Written submissions of this length are, with respect, unnecessary, unhelpful and, in our view, unacceptable. It is much to be hoped that this issue will soon be addressed, robustly.

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