Not an appealing judgement
This kind of thing makes me think that the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal has some sort of death-wish. It has overturned a conviction in a lengthy drug trial, on the grounds that the wrong person signed the indictment, although it was common ground that this had no effect on the fairness of the trial. Following a series of disastrous decisions to hold retrials in gang rape cases, which have already led to amendments to the law designed to repudiate the Court’s judgements, I’d have thought the judges would be cautious about playing this kind of game with technicalities.
A decision like this is bound to produce a further reaction, and probably an over-reaction, from the legislature. We could easily see changes to procedures, designed to preclude further appeals of this kind, that eliminate important safeguards against unfair trials. In their quest to protect the niceties of some imagined ideal system of law, appropriate to a world of unlimited resources and costless trials, the Court of Appeal is gravely damaging the system we actually have to live with.
fn1. For example, the Tayyab Sheikh case elicited an amendment to rules about publicity, and the recent successful appeals by the Skaf brothers have produced rules allowing retrials to be conducted on the basis of transcripts.