7 Things You Should Know About Better Case Management

Written 21st October 2015 by Olliers Solicitors

Better Case Management –  Precis by Specialist Criminal Lawyer Matthew Claughton

Sir Brian Leveson’s ‘Review of Efficiency in Criminal Proceedings‘ identified a number of changes which, if implemented in the Magistrates and Crown Courts, could improve the efficiency of justice.  Some of his recommendations have been combined together to create a new initiative known as ‘Better Case Management’ (BCM).  


  1. NATIONAL ROLL OUT is 5th January 2016 with the exception of the early adopter courts of Isleworth, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Merthyr Tydfil, Portsmouth, Reading and Woolwich.


  2. The OVERARCHING AIMS of BCM – robust case management, reduced hearings, maximum participation/engagement, compliance with rules and directions – direct engagement and case ownership are key.


  3. The most significant change is the PLEA AND TRIAL PREPARATION HEARING which will take place 28 days after the case being sent/allocated to the Crown Court. There will be no preliminary hearing. Instead the PTPH takes place requiring the completion of a 9 page form “to be regarded as the primary record of orders made”. After the PTPH there will be no Further Case Management Hearing (FCMH) before the trial save for in exceptional cases.


  4. The PTPH form must be circulated to the defence no less than 7 days before the PTPH hearing. Whilst the TRIAL ADVOCATE may not yet be allocated by the PTPH the prosecution reviewing lawyer or defence solicitor is required to respond to issues in place of the trial advocate.


  5. FOUR STAGES – in most cases the Crown Court will be able to set four dates to reflect four stages:

    1. Stage 1 – service of prosecution case (50/70 days after sending depending upon whether defendant in custody)

    2. Stage 2 – defence response (28 days after Stage 1 – includes Defence Statement)

    3. Stage 3 – prosecution response to DS and other defence items (14-28 days after Stage 2)

    4. Stage 4 – for defence to provide material/requests/applications


  6. THE BLITZ – October to December should see an expedited case management initiative the “Blitz” which is intended to address the bulge in managing the old and new systems in the new year.


  7. Payment for CRACKED TRIALS – no need to wait for a PCMH (as one will not take place) – defence (and prosecution) move into cracked trial territory once trial fixed following a NG plea to one or more counts.

Specialist Criminal Defence Solicitor

Written by Matthew Claughton. Matthew specialises in the defence of serious criminal allegations. He is the Manchester Law Society Partner of the Year 2015 and shortlisted for Solicitor of the Year at the Law Society 2015 Excellence Awards. The 2015 edition of the Legal 500 ranks him as a Leading Individual for both Crime and Fraud.

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