Report No. 200
(a) United Kingdom: date of arrest accepted as starting point:
Section 1 of the U.K. Contempt of Court Act, 1981 introduces the 'strict liability rule' which means that "the rule of law whereby conduct may be treated as a contempt of court as tendency to interfere with the course of justice in particular legal proceeding regardless of intent to do so". Section 2(1) states that any publication, including broadcast, cable programme or other communications in whatever form", which is addressed to the public at large or any section of the public, will be contempt if it -
"creates a substantial risk that the course of justice in the proceedings in question will be seriously impeded or prejudiced". Sub-section (3) states that the strict liability rule applies to a publication only if the proceedings in question are active within the meaning of this section at the time of publication. Sub-section (4) of section 2 is important and it states:
"Section 2(4): Schedule 1 applies for determining the times at which proceedings are to be treated as active within the meaning of this section."
Schedule 1 (clause 3) states that 'criminal proceedings' are active from the relevant initial step specified in paragraph 4 until concluded as described in para 5. Clause (4) refers to the initial steps in criminal proceedings as follows:
"(a) arrest without warrant;
(a) the issue, or in Scotland the grant of a warrant for arrest;
(b) the issue of summons to appear, or in Scotland, the grant of a warrant to cite;
(c) the service of an indictment or other document specifying the charge,
(d) except in Scotland, oral charge.
Clause 5 refers to conclusion of criminal proceedings as follows:
(a) by acquittal, or as the case may be, by sentence.
(b) by any other verdict, finding, order or decision which puts an end to the proceeding;
(c) by discontinuance or by operation of law.
Clause 11 states that criminal proceedings which become active on the issue of grant of a warrant for his arrest cease to be active at the end of the period of twelve months beginning with the date of the warrant unless he has been arrested within that period, but become active again if he is subsequently arrested.
In UK, more recently, Lord Hope stated in 'Montgomery v. H.M. Advocate' (2001 (2) WLR 779) (PC) as follows:
"The right of an accused to a fair trial by an independent and impartial tribunal is unqualified. It is not to be subordinated to the public interest to the detection and suppression of crime. In this respect, it might be said that the Convention right is superior to the common law right."