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Page Category: Apply to us

Find out what happens when we get your application form, when we will write to you and what will happen next.

Significant new evidence or legal argument

This means it needs to be something not covered at your trial or appeal. For example, new evidence not known about at the time, or a new scientific development.

We cannot revisit things already known by the jury, the judge, or the magistrates.

Information known at your trial even if you believe that they made the wrong decision will not be looked at again.

Image of investigator in front of scales containing evidence
Our process is fair and impartial

We need to find something new that makes your case look very different now. Repeating the
same points to us from your trial or appeal will not be helpful.

What we need is something new and important which will make the appeal court think
differently about your case. You need to tell us anything new in your application form which you know is new and could make a difference in your case.

What will you do with my application form?

When we get your application form, we will write to you about what will happen next. We will then obtain any material that we might need, like the files from the court where you were convicted and from your appeal. We might need to obtain other documents before we can decide whether we can review your case. If we decide that we should begin to review your case, we will write to you to tell you. We might, however, decide that we cannot review your case, for example:

  • If you have an appeal pending.
  • If you have not tried to appeal before and there are no special reasons why we
  • should review your case before you have tried to appeal in the normal way. (See
  • above What if I have not appealed?)
  • If your application does not raise any significant new points that might allow us to
  • send your case for an appeal.
  • If we decide that such a situation applies in your case, we will write to you to explain our decision.

If you lost your appeal and want to apply to us, applications need to be made in writing using our online application form or by sending a form by post.

The form is not a test and we have tried to make it as easy as we can.

You must have been convicted in a criminal court in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

You can ask us to look at your conviction, your sentence, or both. It is a free service and costs nothing to apply.

You can apply to the CCRC online and by post
You can apply online or via post

Remember, there needs to be significant new evidence or a new legal argument for us to be able to refer your case to an appeal court. And it must be something not already heard by the court.

Your application is your chance to tell us everything wrong with your conviction or sentence.

Someone else can apply for you. If so, we will contact you to check that you want us to investigate your case.

Apply online

When you submit the online form you will get an email saying we have received it. This is usually within 5 working days of your online submission. After that, you can email any other documents you think will help us.

You can’t save the online form and come back to it, so please read through the PDF version and collect all your information before filling it in.

Apply online

Apply by post

You can apply by post.

Contact us and we can post an application form to you.

Or you can download and print off the PDF application form

If you fill out a paper application form you must sign it before sending it back to us.

If you apply to the CCRC we will use the information you give us to help look into your case.

We may use it to get hold of material belonging to other organisations. This could be information about you or about any other person or subject if we think it could have an impact on your case.

We can get any material we think we need even if organisations or individuals do not want us to have it.

Once we have started looking into a case, we will decide what material we need. We take great care of the information we hold.

We aim to get only what we need.  We aim to keep the information only for as long as we need to. We are very careful about how and when we share information about cases. 

We are very careful about sharing information

We only share information when it is allowed by the Criminal Appeal Act 1995 and the Data Protection Act 2018. When we refer a case for appeal, we usually share the information about the appeal with the applicant, with the appeal court and with the prosecution. When we refer a case, we will usually tell any victim involved in the case.

We usually issue a short press release identifying the case and explaining the basic reasons that it has been referred. We may also share the applicant’s contact details with the Miscarriage of Justice Support Service which is a charity that can offer help to people who have been wrongly convicted.

You can read our privacy statement for further information

Find out what happens to your application once we receive it at the CCRC.

What we do with your application

When your application arrives we check:

  • if you have already tried to appeal.
  • if you have applied to us before about the same conviction.
  • that we have the legal powers to deal with your case.

Every application form we receive is looked at carefully.

Visit our Can I Apply page to read more.

We carefully check every application

If you have not applied to us before and have already appealed and lost your appeal, then we start by collecting all the papers that we need. These are things like the files from the court where you were convicted. We also collect the papers from your first appeal.

We can’t start to make any decisions about your case until we have collected all the papers.

Once we have the papers we need to get started, we will look at your case to see what should happen next. At this stage we are looking to see what we need to do to get to the bottom of the issues that you have raised. It is therefore very important that you tell us everything you think we need to know about your case in your applicaiton form.

If we think that there are issues in your case that need further investigation, we will give your case to one of our Case Review Managers. These are the CCRC staff who carryout the investigations. We call the investigations ‘case reviews’.

At this point we will write to you and let you know what is happening.

The case review process

We may decide that your case cannot be reviewed. This might happen because we think that your application does not raise any significant new points that might allow us to send your case for an appeal. If we think that this is the case with your application, we will write to you to explain why.

If your case goes to a Case Review Manager, the decision about whether your case can be referred will be taken once the Case Review Manager has reviewed your case.

The Case Review Manager might think that there is nothing significant or new in your case to allow us to send your case to the appeal court. In this case they will ask a Commissioner to look at the case.

The Commissioner has two options open to them. They can make the decision not to refer or they can send your case to a decision-making committee.

The Case Review Manager might think that your case should be referred. The Case Review Manager will send your case to a decision-making committee.

A decision-making committee is made up of at least three Commissioners.
If we decide that your case cannot be sent to the appeal court, we will explain the reasons why the Commission cannot send your case for an appeal.

If we decide that your case cannot be sent to the appeal court, we will explain the reasons why the Commission cannot send your case for an appeal.

Where appropriate, you will be given time to respond to the decision document and will be sent a Provisional Statement of Reasons, which will allow you 28 days to respond to the points we have made. For further information see Extensions for Further Representations.

If we decide that your case can be referred, then we will issue a final Statement of Reasons. This will explain to you our reasons for referring your case. This Statement of Reasons will be sent to the Court of Appeal.

What if you haven’t appealed yet?

If you already have an appeal pending (i.e. you are waiting for your first appeal to come to court), we cannot review your case and we will write to you to explain this.

If you have not tried appeal in the normal way through the courts, we will treat your case differently. This is because the CCRC was created to deal cases where people have used up their normal rights of appeal. We can only consider “no appeal” cases if there are special reasons why you cannot appeal to the court. These special reasons are known as “Exceptional Circumstances”.  If there are special reasons why, we can look at the case even though there has been no earlier attempt to appeal but these are very rare.  In most cases we will have to tell the “no appeal” applicant that we cannot consider their case.  Those applicants are told to approach the courts to start an appeal in the normal way.

Details on how we deal with cases where the applicant has not already appealed (or applied for leave to appeal) is set out in the Commission’s Formal Policy on ‘Exceptional Circumstances’.

We call an application that is not your first application for a particular offence a re-application. For us to consider a re-application it must contain something new. If all the points that you make in your reapplication have already been considered, we will write to you to explain why we cannot accept your reapplication.  That decision will be final.  This applies if your points have already been made in an earlier application to us, or at trial or on appeal. 

The CCRC can only deal with convictions and sentences from the criminal courts of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland and from the Military Court and the Service Civilian Court.

This means that we cannot deal with immigration law, civil law and ASBOs.

Scotland has its own Commission, the SCCRC.

Support if our case is referred

The Miscarriages of Justice Support Service (MJSS) is a specialist service provided by RCJ Advice.  RCJ Advice is part of Citizens’ Advice. MJSS provide free, confidential and impartial advice and support for survivors of wrongful convictions.

They can provide advice and support in a number of areas including:

  • finding somewhere to live
  • establishing income / training
  • applying for National Insurance credits
  • registering with a GP and getting healthcare and counselling
  • opening a bank account and budgeting
  • support for family relationship issues
  • finding a solicitor to help with compensation claims.

They can also help with things like writing letters, filling in forms, making and attending appointments.

Contact the MJSS by emailing: MJSS@rcjadvice.org.uk

Or by writing to:

RCJ Advice
The Royal Courts of Justice
Strand
London
WC2A 2LL

Anyone can apply if they believe they have been wrongly convicted of a criminal offence or wrongly sentenced.

You must have been convicted in a criminal court in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland. You can ask us to look at your conviction, or your sentence, or both.

It is a free service and costs nothing to apply.

When should I apply to the CCRC?

It is free to apply to the CCRC

You should apply to the CCRC after you have tried to appeal through the courts in the usual way.

Appeals can be submitted even if you think you’ve missed the deadline. If you already lost your appeal but you still think you have been wrongly convicted or sentenced, you should apply to us for a case review.

What if I have not appealed?

If you have not appealed through the courts in the usual way, we will usually write to explain that you need to go back and try to appeal. We accept very few cases where people apply to us before they have tried to appeal. We can only refer cases in the absence of a prior appeal if there are very special reasons.  We call these “exceptional circumstances”.

What are ‘exceptional circumstances’?

Exceptional circumstances are very rare. There must be a good reason why you did not appeal.  A good reason must be evident as to why you cannot appeal without our help. These circumstances are never automatic. We decide if there are exceptional circumstances based on the facts of each case.

What is not an exceptional circumstance?

Here are some examples:

  • You forgot to appeal or have missed the deadline. In those situations, you can still ask the court for an appeal. This is called appealing “out of time”.
  • You received advice from your solicitor or barrister that you have no grounds for appeal. This does not stop you from appealing.
  • You have been unable to get a solicitor or barrister to help you appeal. You can apply for an appeal yourself without legal assistance.

Where can I find out about appealing in the usual way?

if you were convicted in a Crown Court useful information about appealing can be found in a booklet called ‘Appealing a conviction or sentence to the Court of Appeal – help for applicants’. Copies of this should be in your prison library. You can find out more by downloading a booklet and the forms you need. You can get a paper copy of the booklet and forms by calling the Criminal Appeals Office on 020 7947 6011.

The charity JUSTICE also has a helpful booklet called ‘How to Appeal’. This deals with appeals in Crown Court cases.

Find out more information about appealing in relation to magistrates’ court cases.