The Court of Criminal Appeal is the State's highest court for criminal matters. A person who has been convicted or who pleaded guilty and been sentenced by a Supreme Court or District Court judge, may appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal. Appeals may also be brought from decisions of the Land and Environment Court in its criminal jurisdiction.
The Criminal Appeal Act 1912 sets out the Court's functions, powers and jurisdiction; other legislation also invests jurisdiction in the Court for certain matters. The Court's procedural requirements are set out in the Supreme Court (Criminal Appeal) Rules 2021 and Practice Note SC CCA 1 – Court of Criminal Appeal – General. There are specific forms which must be used for filing in the Court of Criminal Appeal.
The judges hearing any particular case are selected from the Chief Justice, the President of the Court of Appeal, the judges of appeal, the Chief Judge and other nominated judges of the Common Law Division.
Appeals are generally heard by three judges, although five judges may sit when significant legal issues need to be considered. If the judges do not agree, the majority view prevails.
There are a number of grounds for appeal, including a challenge to a conviction involving a question of law. The Court of Criminal Appeal may also grant leave to appeal in matters involving questions of fact or mixed questions of fact and law. It may also grant leave to appeal in cases where the severity or adequacy of the sentence is challenged.
To appeal to the High Court from the Court of Criminal Appeal, an applicant must first obtain special permission from the High Court.