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  • Namita Pawa

Crown Court Warned List

What is a Crown Court Warned List?

A ‘warned list’ or Crown Court warned list’ is a list of cases which are used as back up cases if a case, which is given a fixed date for trial does not proceed for some reason.

The warned list period is usually a two week period of time when a defendant is told their case may be called in for trial. All matters of trial preparation will be complete in advance of this period and then it is a matter of waiting for the case to be called in.

If your case is called in or ‘reached’ in the warned list, we will be notified the previous working day by the Court – generally in the afternoon. We ask clients to call in each afternoon during their warned list to check if their case is called in once the daily list is released for the Crown Court. If we are informed earlier in the day, we will call the client immediately. Clients are obliged to keep themselves available during that period.

What happens if my case is not called in to the warned list?

If, during your warned list period, your case is not called in, it will usually be given another warned list period to attempt to call it in before finally being given a fixed date for trial.

How long is the warned list period?

The period is generally two weeks although some courts operate different time periods and some even have rolling warned list periods. This means the case remains in an ongoing warned list and can be called in at any point onwards. Naturally a very difficult experience for those awaiting trial.

Why do Courts use warned lists?

There are numerous reasons why a trial may not go ahead when it is meant to or reasons why it finishes early. In those circumstances, the court is left with an empty court room. The backlog of cases waiting to be called in for trial is at its highest and so have cases in a warned list enables the court to take advantage of the circumstances where a case finishes early or does not go ahead.

Whilst very useful for the court, it can leave a defendant in a state of limbo not knowing if their case will be called in and even if it is, whether their choice of barrister will be available.

On the topic of counsel, we instruct independent counsel to represent our clients utilising those with expertise in advocacy in the crown court. We select counsel who are sufficiently experienced to deal with the particular case and the right fit for our client. As part of trial preparation, we often have conferences in advance so that our client can meet their barrister and go over the details of the case.

The difficulty that the warned list brings is that instructed counsel may not be available because it will all depend when the case is called in. This has been a difficulty since warned lists were first introduced and we are still striving to finds a solution. If the barrister is not available then we always ensure we have a replacement who is equally as qualified and skilled for the case and work closely with barristers’ chambers to ensure this.

Legal disclaimer: Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice. The information contained herein is accurate at the date of publication but please note that the law is ever changing and evolving. If you require advice in relation to any matter raised in this article please contact a member of the team.


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