What is a plea and case management hearing in UK law?
The first hearing after committal, a plea and case management hearing ensures that the correct plea and trial process has been followed.
At a hearing, the judge will decide if enough information has been provided to allow a trial date to be set.
A plea and case management hearing is always heard at the crown court.
What happens at a plea and case management hearing?
At a plea and case management hearing, the indictment will be read out, then the defendant will be asked if they plead guilty or not guilty to each count of the alleged offence.
If the defendant pleads guilty, they may be sentenced immediately or alternatively an adjournment may be requested to allow pre-sentence reports to be completed. If the defendant pleads guilty to some counts and not guilty to others, sentencing will be adjourned.
If the defendant pleads not guilty to all counts, the prosecution and defence will inform the court of relevant details such as:
- How many witnesses they intend to call
- Any evidence they intend to exhibit
The court will then be given an estimate of how long the trial is likely to run for, alongside when witnesses will be likely to have to attend court.
The judge will ensure sufficient directions are put into place to allow the trial to proceed as soon as possible.
The use of a plea and case management form is mandatory during a hearing.
How does a plea and case management hearing differ to a plea and trial preparation hearing?
A plea and trial preparation hearing – PTPH – requires the defendant to enter a plea regarding the offence they are alleged to have committed – guilty or not guilty. The plea will then determine the direction the criminal case will take.
A plea and case management hearing then takes place to ensure that the correct plea and trial process has been followed.