On appeal from [2015] NIQB 33


This case considered whether, in exercising the discretion in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, s 74(3)(b), the Special Prosecutor is required to ask him/herself whether the sentencing court could conclude that the circumstances applicable whether the sentence as passed had changed as a result of knowing failures by the assisting offender to give assistance in accordance with the assisting offender agreement.

The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the appeal, dismissing the application. The Court rejected the argument that s 74 requires the prosecutor to carefully examine every conceivable aspect of the assisting offenders’ accounts, as to do so would have placed an impossible logistical burden on the prosecutor. The Supreme Court also held that s 74 does not impose constraints on how the prosecutor should approach the question of whether he/she should refer the decision as to the assisting offenders’ sentences back to the sentencing court. Thus the Court rejected the contention that the prosecutor had to consider whether circumstances had changed since the original sentence had been passed, and if they had that he/she was bound to refer the decision back. The Supreme Court considered that to bind a prosecutor in this way would remove meaning from the necessity of such a referral being in the interests of justice.

For judgment, please download: [2017] UKSC 63
For Court’s press summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII

To watch the hearing, please visit: Supreme Court Website (20 Jun 2017 morning session) (20 Jun 2017 afternoon session)