PARERE PRO VERITATE
The Validity of The Appeal of Murder Act 1819 And the Consequences for All Appeals and The Court of Appeal Criminal Division.
The Court of Appeal of England and Wales was created in 1875 and is split into two permanent Divisions, the Civil Division (which hears family cases, as well as a range of civil appeals) and the Criminal Division, which hears appeals against criminal convictions and sentences. The Court of Appeal Criminal Division only really came to light by the Criminal Appeal Act 1907.
Since the Criminal Appeal Act 1907, there have been updates by the enactment off –
a.) The Criminal Appeal Act 1907 and,
b.) The Criminal Appeal Act 1964 and,
c.) The Criminal Appeal Act 1968 and,
d.) The Criminal Appeal Act 1995.
It is easily arguable, however, by virtue of the validity of the Appeal of Murder Act 1819 the said Act precludes the possibility or lawfulness of any appeal. The wording is crystal clear –
‘That from and after the passing of this Act, all Appeals of Treason, Murder, Felony or other Offences, shall cease, determine and become void; and that it shall not be lawful for any Person or Persons, at any time after the passing of this Act, to commence, take, or sue Appeal of Treason, Murder, Felony or other Offence’
How did this situation come to be? On the 19 August 2018, I submitted a request to the Director General of the Department of Information Services at the House of Commons as to whether the Appeal of Murder Act 1819 had ever been repealed.
On 22 August 2018, under reference 1808-163 a certain ‘Debbie’ replied that only the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice were in a position to reply to any request. I subsequently wrote to the Home Office and on 10 September 2018 FOI case reference 50144 and a certain ‘M Hassan’ replied that I would receive a reply by 8 October 2018.
On 8 October 2018, the Home Office, in reply to my specific question ‘if you would confirm or deny as to whether the Appeal of Murder Act 1819 was ever repealed?’ The answer came back that they simply did not know.
On 14 October 2018, I pressed the Home Office who replied on 20 November 2018, that they could neither confirm nor deny that the Appeal of Murder Act 1819 had ever been repealed. This is a somewhat incongruous situation where the government is unable to confirm or deny if an Act of Parliament has ever been repealed and one that has considerable consequences to the criminal justice system.
On 19 December 2018, I complained to the House of Commons that it would appear that the government is ignorant of information that has far-reaching consequences to the administration of justice.
In January 2019, I spoke to the Speaker’s Office who at the time was Mr Bercow and, in July 2019, it was finally confirmed that the Appeal of Murder Act 1819 had, in fact, never been repealed.
The natural consequences are, that if an Act of Parliament that prohibits appeal per se has not been repealed the domino effect is that the Criminal Appeal Acts: 1907, 1964, 1966, 1968, and 1995, are void at worst and certainly invalid at best.
The Court of Appeal that determines appeals in the Criminal Division is unlawfully constituted because they are adjudicating on appeals that are prohibited by law. The suggested remedy would probably be a welcome relief for those who practice in the criminal jurisdiction, that have witnessed over the past 30 years the dilution of applied justice in the Court of Appeal.
The remedy is to immediately disband the Court of Appeal Criminal Division and constitute a new court with the title ‘Court of Review’ which would not fall foul of the Appeal of Murder Act 1819. Whilst this may seem extreme if the law is to be applied, as opposed to interpreted and, if the criminal justice system is to be held in high esteem by the public, they must adhere to the rule of law. The Appeal of Murder Act 1819 precludes any form of appeal but not any form of review.
The Ministry of Justice to be compliant with the law should immediately disband the current Court of Appeal Criminal Division, re-evaluate the validity of the judiciary, who sits in the current Courts and fine-tune the purpose of reviewing a conviction so that it is compliant with human rights and natural justice.
Giovanni Di Stefano