Regina v Brown (Winston): HL 20 Feb 1997

The victim had been stabbed outside a nightclub. Two witnesses identified the defendant. The defendants complained that evidence had not been disclosed to them.
Held: There is no duty at common law on the prosecution to warn the defence of material which might be used to attack the credibility of defence witnesses. Fairness, so far as the preparation of the defence case and the selection of the defence witnesses are concerned, is preserved by the existing rules of disclosure and by ensuring that the defendant has adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence. ‘The preparation of the defence case is not complete until this has been done. Once it has been completed, the defence can be assumed to be in possession of all that is needed to decide which witnesses to lead and which to reject on grounds of credibility. It is unnecessary to extend the duty of disclosure by the prosecutor any further to ensure that the defendant has a fair trial.’ but ‘If fairness demands disclosure, then a way of ensuring that disclosure will be made must be found.’ (Lord Hope of Craighead )


Lord Goff of Chieveley, Lord Slynn of Hadley Lord Hope of Craighead Lord Clyde Lord Hutton


Gazette 03-Sep-1997, [1997] UKHL 33, [1998] AC 367, [1997] 3 All ER 769, [1997] 3 WLR 447, [1998] 1 Cr App Rep 66


House of Lords, Bailii


England and Wales


CitedDallison v Caffery CACD 1965
It is for the detaining authority to justify all periods of detention.
The court described the common law duty on a prosecutor to disclose material. Lord Denning MR said: ‘The duty of a prosecuting counsel or solicitor, as I have always . .
OutdatedAttorney-General’s Guidelines Practice Note (Criminal Evidence: Unused Material) 1982
. .
CitedRegina v Keane CACD 15-Mar-1994
Public Interest Immunity Certificates for the protection of informants must be used only carefully. The Crown must specify the purpose of the public interest immunity certificate. The principles on disclosure in Ward are not limited to scientific . .
CitedRex v Bryant and Dickson CCA 1946
A fraud occurred in respect of the repairing of ambulances in a garage operated by a company in which the defendant Dickson was the major shareholder and where the defendant Bryant worked. An employee of the company at the garage would make an . .
CitedRegina v Hennessy (Timothy) 1978
The court described the duty on a prosecutor to disclose evidence: ‘those who prepare and conduct prosecutions owe a duty to the courts to ensure that all relevant evidence of help to an accused is either led by them or made available to the . .
CitedRegina v Ward (Judith) CACD 15-Jul-1992
The defendant had been wrongly convicted of IRA bombings. She said that the prosecution had failed to disclose evidence.
Held: The prosecution’s forensic scientists are under a common law duty to disclose to the defence anything they may . .
CitedRegina v Williams (Michael) CACD 15-Apr-1994
It was argued that wherever the Crown have, as a result of their investigation of the contents of a notice of alibi, found material which goes to disprove the alibi, they must call it as part of the prosecution case.
Held: The court rejected . .
ApprovedRegina v Seymour CACD 19-Dec-1995
A material irregularity had occurred because the prosecution had failed to disclose to the defence that they were in possession of a statement signed by a defence witness as to alibi which was used to cross-examine her when she gave evidence.

Cited by:

CitedTaylor and Others v Director of The Serious Fraud Office and Others HL 29-Oct-1998
The defendant had requested the Isle of Man authorities to investigate the part if any taken by the plaintiff in a major fraud. No charges were brought against the plaintiff, but the documents showing suspicion came to be disclosed in the later . .
CitedRegina v Mills, Regina v Poole HL 24-Jul-1997
The prosecution have a duty to disclose to the defence the statement of an adverse witness and not just to provide the name and address, even though that person was not seen as credible witness by the prosecution. ‘the rule in Bryant and Dickson is . .
CitedDirector of Public Prosecutions v Wood; Director of Public Prosecutions v McGillicuddy Admn 19-Jan-2006
Each defendant sought disclosure of materials concerning the intoximeter instruments, having been charged with driving with excess alcohol. The defendants said that the meters were inaccurate and that the manufacturers were in effect part of the . .
CitedH, Regina v (Interlocutory application: Disclosure) HL 28-Feb-2007
The trial judge had refused an order requested at a preparatory hearing by the defence for the disclosure of documents held by the prosecutor. The House was now asked whether a right of appeal existed against such a refusal.
Held: The practice . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Criminal Practice

Updated: 23 May 2022; Ref: scu.135211