Why Appeal

Historically there was no right of appeal in English law. While a civil appeal process developed from the 17th century, criminal appeals took longer to become an established part of our justice system. Parliament considered over 30 Bills on the question of a Court of Criminal Appeal in the 19th century. Its creation in 1907 was not met with universal applause; a leading criminal barrister of the time was unimpressed at the creation of an Appeal Court that could set aside verdicts based on his ‘daring rhetoric’. Since the Court of Criminal Appeals creation that year and its transformation into the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) following the Donovan Committee’s 1965 review, criminal appeals have become an integral part of our criminal process; integral to the fairness of that process. In this lecture Dame Heather Hallett, Vice-President of the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) considers the origins of the criminal appeal process, its operation today, and how it might evolve in the future.

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