Guidance provided by the Privy Council regarding 56 day time limit for appeals

26 October 2012

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) yesterday handed down judgment in the case of Carlos Hamilton and Jason Lewis who in 2001 were found guilty of the murder of a man in Jamaica and sentenced to life imprisonment. In March 2003, the Court of Appeal of Jamaica refused Hamilton and Lewis’ application for permission to appeal against their conviction and sentences. In July 2011, they filed for permission to appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal to the JCPC. The length of time between the Court of Appeal’s order and Hamilton and Lewis’ application to the JCPC was more than eight years.

The rules of the JCPC state that an application for permission to appeal must be filed within 56 days from the date of the order or decision of the court below, or the date which that court refused permission to appeal. The Board does, however, have flexibility to extend or shorten this period.

In a judgment initially made available in August but published today alongside the substantive judgment of Sir Anthony Hooper relating to the Hamilton and Lewis case, Lord Hope has set out how the JCPC will consider such applications for extensions to the court’s time limits.

“As a general rule,” Lord Hope rules, “the longer the delay, the more convincing and weighty the explanation will need to be. The question will always be whether, having regard to all the circumstances, it is in the interests of justice that the time limit should be extended.”

In view of the importance to practitioners of this judgment, it was streamed live through the Sky news website.

Tom Poole acted on behalf of the Respondent. Richard Samuel, lead by Edward Fitzgerald QC, acted on behalf of Hamilton and Lewis.