The power to adjourn a trial is conferred upon Justices by statute. The divisional court will intervene where defendants have been deprived of a fair opportunity to present their case. The decision whether to grant an adjournment is not a mechanical exercise of comparing previous delays in those cases with the delays in the instant applications, and hard and fast rules should not be sought. Justices should fully examine the applications for delay, their reasons and consequences for the parties. They must decide what is fair in all those circumstances. The divisional Court will only interfere with the exercise of the Justices’ discretion where a refusal will cause substantial unfairness to one of the parties, arising when a defendant cannot present his case. Defendants should not be permitted to frustrate a speedy trial without substantial grounds. Summary justice is speedy justice. This is not merely administrative convenience. Last minute adjournments deprive other defendants of speedy trials when recollections are fresh, and delays cause frustration in Justices. The rulings of the divisional court should not inhibit Justices from refusing repeated applications for adjournments where appropriate.
Lord Justice Bingham,
 EWHC Admin 119,  QB 110,  2 Cr App R 340,  2 WLR 854
Magistrates Court Act 1980 10(1)
England and Wales
Cited – Regina v Macclesfield Justices, ex parte Jones 1983
A defendant who is guilty of deliberately seeking to postpone a trial without good reason has no cause for complaint if his application for an adjournment is refused. . .
Cited – Regina v Bolton Magistrates’ Court, ex parte Merna; Regina v Richmond Justices, ex parte Haines 1991
The divisional court should intervene where a defendant has been deprived of a fair opportunity to present his case because of his own unavoidable absence. . .
Cited – Regina v Bradford Justices, ex parte Wilkinson 1990
A magistrates’ court should grant a defendant’s application for an adjournment where a witness was absent, and his evidence went to an issue critical to the defence case. . .
Cited – Regina v Bristol Magistrates’ Court, ex parte Rowles 1994
A court should grant an adjournment where a party’s witness was unable to attend, and that witness’ evidence was critical for a real issue in the case. Adjournments give rise to a proper sense of frustration in Justices confronted with frequent . .
Cited – Regina (A) v Kingsmead School Governors and Another QBD 13-Mar-2002
A permanently excluded pupil sought judicial review of the decision to exclude him. The school resisted saying that since there remained an avenue of appeal, a judicial review was inappropriate. He could still ask for a review of the decision of the . .
Cited – Regina (DR) (AM) v St George’s Catholic School and Others, Regina (A) v Kingsmead School Governors and Another CA 13-Dec-2002
The applicants appealed the refusal of judicial review of the refusals of their appeals against exclusion from school.
Held: The Act provided a full appeal procedure from the initial decision of the school’s head teacher, first to the . .
Cited – Regina v District Court Martial Sitting at RAF Lyneham (ex parte SAC Wayne Robert James Stoodley) Admn 20-May-1998
The defendant sought certiorari of a refusal of an adjournment of his hearing by the respondent. His defence team had requested an adjournment for a psychiatric report. The court had said such a report would not go as to mens rea.
Held: The . .
Cited – Stavrinou, Regina (on the Application Of) v Horseferry Road Justices Admn 22-Feb-2006
The claimant asked for judicial review of a decision to adjourn the case against him on a charge of driving with excess alcohol. The district judge had already insisted on the date fixed for the hearing as against the defendant, but then adjourned . .
Cited – Regina v Haringey Justices Employment ex parte Julian Branco Admn 24-Oct-1997
The defendant sought judicial review of his conviction saying that the chairwoman knew his mother and was antipathetic to her, and had shown bias in the trial.
Held: There had been confusion, but no real risk of bias. The review was refused. . .
Cited – W, Regina (on the Application of) v Camberwell Youth Court and Another Admn 10-Sep-2004
The defendant sought a Judicial review of the magistrates’ decision to adjourn case at request of prosecutor. The prosecutor had failed to comply with its disclosure obligations, and de-warned its witnesses before the date fixed for trial.
Cited – Imbeah, Regina (on The Application of) v Willesden Magistrates’ Court and Another QBD 14-Jul-2016
The claimant applied for judicial review of a decision of a Magistrates Court to convict her of driving with excess alcohol. The grounds were that the district judge acted unlawfully in proceeding with the trial without disclosure by the prosecution . .
Cited – Westminster City Council v Owadally and Another Admn 17-May-2017
Defendant must plea to charge, and not counsel
The defendants had, through their barrister, entered pleas of guilty, but the crown court had declared the convictions invalid because this had to have been done by the defendants personally, and remitted the cases and the confiscation proceedings . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Magistrates, Judicial Review
Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.137064