Written by  Joseph Burke 2014-03-30

New Magistrates' Court Practice Directions Affect Bail Applications

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On 17 March 2014, practice direction 4 of 2014 came into force, revoking the previous direction 4 of 2011. This practice direction relates to bail applications.

Among other changes, this practice direction follows on with changes made to the bail act with the Bail Amendment Act 2013. It does however alter the options available to an accused facing a remand hearing.

Prior to this practice direction coming in to force, an unrepresented applicant for bail who lost, would need to wait a minimum 3 working days to get another bail application listed, after getting a lawyer to act for them. The fact of having a lawyer would demonstrate new facts and circumstances, which is required for a subsequent application at the Magistrates' Court.

However, if the unrepresented applicant failed to apply for bail at the first remand hearing, the application could (theoretically) be listed without waiting the minimum 3 working days.

With these new practice directions, applications for bail after the first remand hearing where no bail application was made will now require three days notification to the informant and prosecution.

This has a strange effect.

See, if an accused is unsuccessful in a bail application, and the court is satisfied according to s18AK(2) and (3) of the Bail Act 1977 that the circumstances of the case justify the application being heard sooner and the court is able to hear and determine the matter adequately despite the lack of notice to the other parties, or the other parties agree to waive notice, then the bail application can still be heard earlier.

This section doesn't apply if the accused hasn't yet applied for bail. So if an accused applies for bail at the first remand hearing, and loses, they can (theoretically) get a new bail application lodged sooner then if they didn't apply for bail at the first remand hearing.

Strangely, this implies that an accused should always apply for bail at the first remand hearing.


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