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Catherine Callaghan QC acted for the Secretary of State for Justice in the first significant case to apply the reasoning in R (Belhaj) v Director of Public Prosecutions (No1) [2018 3 WLR 435 in relation to the meaning and scope of the phrase “criminal cause or matter” in section 18(1) of the Senior Courts Act 1981 (the outcome of which determines whether there is a right of appeal to the Court of Appeal from a judgment of the High Court). 

In McAtee, the High Court had dismissed a judicial review claim which sought a declaration that, in preventing the claimant from applying for his indeterminate licence to be cancelled until after ten years post-release, section 31A of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997 was incompatible with the Claimant’s Article 8 rights. 

The Court of Appeal held that, in light of the broad meaning given by the Supreme Court in Belhaj to the phrase “criminal cause or matter”, which applies to any question raised in or with regard to proceedings the subject matter of which is criminal, at whatever stage of the proceedings the question arises, the McAtee proceedings were a challenge to the sentencing regime itself and were therefore a criminal cause or matter, in respect of which the Court of Appeal had no jurisdiction to hear the appeal. 

Click here for the full judgment. 

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