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CBA call for evidence: failure to appoint intermediaries

The Criminal Bar Association (CBA) has expressed concern about the amendments to the Criminal Practice Direction in relation to intermediaries. It has requested practitioners to share their experience of defendants who have been badly disadvantaged by the Court’s failure to appoint an intermediary.


Francis FitzGibbon QC, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association (CBA), has said the following:

“There is growing concern that the April 2016 iteration of the Criminal Practice Direction discriminates unfairly against defendants who need the help of an intermediary. For example, paragraph F3.20 provides that “A trial will not be rendered unfair because a direction to appoint an intermediary for the defendant is ineffective”. A bit sweeping, you might think. Members are asked to report instances where they think a defendant has been badly disadvantaged by the Court’s failure to appoint an intermediary, or any case where an intermediary has been appointed and then the appointment is withdrawn.” [bold added]

Evidence of a court’s failure to appoint an intermediary and the impact upon the defendant should be emailed to


The amended Criminal Practice Directions 2015 (in force on 4 April 2016) contains a revised practice direction on the appointment and use of intermediaries during criminal trials. The new practice direction has attracted criticism because it suggests intermediaries for defendants will be ‘rare’. See our legal update here.