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Matters to consider when deciding to apply

Matters to consider when deciding to apply

Principle

Section 51 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 enables the court to allow witnesses (other than the defendant) in the United Kingdom to give evidence by live link if the court is satisfied that giving evidence in this way is in the interests of the efficient or effective administration of justice.

Section 51 was piloted in five Crown Court centres and was restricted to serious sexual offences. The Criminal Justice Act 2003 (Commencement No. 24 and Transitional Provisions) Order 2010 extended live links to all witnesses in all cases for all criminal offences in all courts and came into force on . The witness does not have to be a special ‘category’ of witness (for instance vulnerable or intimidated as defined by section 16 or 17 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 [YJCEA]). For special ‘category’ witnesses, please see the Special Measures Legal Guidance.

“Live link” is defined in section 56(2) and will usually mean a closed circuit television link, but could apply to any secure technology with the same effect such as video conferencing facilities or the internet.

Live links will be particularly helpful for witnesses with limited availability, such as professional witnesses, or those with mobility issues who do not qualify for live links under the ‘special measures’ provisions of the YJCEA.