Court orders prohibiting the identification of children caught up in court cases cannot apply after they turn 18, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
R (JC and another) v Central Criminal Court related to the orders routinely made under section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933. This gives courts the power to prohibit the publication of any identifying details of children involved in court proceedings.
The case concerned three 17 year-olds. Two of these, referred to as ‘JC’ and ‘RT’, had been convicted under the Explosive Substances Act 1983. The third teenager, meanwhile, had been convicted of more serious offences. He was due to undergo a retrial but this was not due to take place until all three teenagers had turned 18.
The identities of JC and RT was protected by section 39 orders, but a judge ruled that these would automatically expire on their 18th birthdays and so they could be named in reports of the subsequent proceedings The two teenagers sought permission to apply for a judicial review of this decision but this was refused. They unsuccessfully appealed the refusal.
Sitting at the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Laws said the wording of section 39 clearly referred to children and could not be extended to those who are legally adults. Lord Justice Moore-Bick agreed, stating that section 39 was not intended to assist the rehabilitation of young offenders but only to protect children involved in court proceedings from exposure and negative publicity.
Read the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 here.