Some Thoughts On The New PTPH Form – Blog By Tim Compton

Published on 07/09/2021

Further to my despairing blogs about the slow death of the inquisitorial system and the rule of law, aspects of the PTPH form which tends to make me drift towards uncontrollable carpet chewing rage are the 2 questions in Defence Information section, namely, [1] “D[isclosure] M[anagement] D[ocument]: “Is any served Disclosure Management Document adequate and if not why not?” & [2] “Do the defence agree the reasonable lines of enquiry and, if not, what other lines of enquiry are suggested by the defence?”, with the optional check box answers of, “Yes”, “No” or “N/A”.

For nigh on 2(+) years, before various Judges in various Courts on Western Circuit (& at the risk of setting myself up hereafter as a judicial target), I have always answered along the lines of [1] “Please see below” and then, [2] “The duties of disclosure imposed by statute, common law, and under the Attorney-General’s Guidelines are a matter for the prosecuting authorities to comply with to ensure compliance with s. 6 Human Rights Act 1998 and an ECHR Article 6.1 compliant trial” & “Without meaning any disrespect to the Court, this and the preceding question are, it is suggested, a matter for the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service to consider and answer, given Viscount Sankey LC’s observations as to the “golden thread” in Woolmington v. DPP [1935] AC 462 (with which speech, Lord Hewart LCJ, Lord Atkin and the other Law Lords concurred); that statement of the law is not altered by an expressly stated to be “procedural code”: see CPR 2020 1.1 (1), ‘The overriding objective of this procedural code …’. It is not for the defence to advise the police or prosecuting authority as to how to investigate and prosecute an alleged criminal offence?”.

To date – and again I am aware that this is setting myself up as a potential target for judicial ire – I have not, to date, had what might be termed “judicial pushback” on those observations. The only flak lately aimed at me from the Bench was that I was told my observation that the Police should investigate properly and the prosecution prosecute fairly, was a “most tendentious suggestion” (which, I confess, didn’t sound good).

I am at a loss as to why on the PTPH questions quoted above there has been, to date, no pushback on my comments: if, given the nature of the questions on an officially sanctioned document, I am uttering complete and utter legal ******** on a regular basis, why has no Judge pointed this out to me (if I do spout what has been considered legal ********, the Judiciary have always, over the last 30 + years invariably and helpfully pointed this out to me, using small words to ensure I understand – and if the judiciary haven’t, my colleagues always step in to do so …). Surely it cannot be that the judiciary are not reading the form once I’ve gone to the effort to fill it in – heaven forfend; I for one will not believe that for a moment (or even entertain the possibility so absurd is the thought)? I can only assume that Judges are being kind in not holding me up to public ridicule in open Court.

Can someone please, please help me with where, in CPD terms, I can catch up with a major shift in the English Legal System whereby the “golden thread” has been rewoven without me noticing …?