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Page Category: Frequently asked questions

Our service is free

Find answers to our most common queries on this page.

We do not charge anything so applying to us will not cost you any money.  Our service is free.

If you apply to us and your case is referred to the appeal court, the court cannot add to your sentence even if they turn down your appeal.

Legal representation and prison sentences

Find answers to questions about whether you can get legal aid, lawyers and more.

After applying and keeping in touch

Learn more about how we investigate, prioritise and decide on your case.

Submitted applications and referrals

Get answers to questions about what happens when you submit your application.

Are you a victim of crime?

See our information for victims of crime and when and how you will hear from the CCRC.

Find answers to our most common queries about what happens when you submit an application.

Questions about submitted applications

What will you do with my application?

When an application arrives, we do some checks.

  • We check to see if you have already tried to appeal.
  • We check to see if you have applied to us before about the same conviction.
  • We check that we have the legal power to deal with your case.
  • Every application form we receive is looked at carefully.

If you have not applied to us before and you 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 application 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 carrying out the investigations. We call the investigations ‘case reviews’.  

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

We may decide that your case cannot be reviewed. That 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 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.

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.

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 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.

What support is there if my 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 2L

Find answers to our most common queries about the application process and how we keep in touch.

Your questions answered

What we do to investigate your case

The CCRC was created specially to review cases where someone says they have been the victim of a miscarriage of justice. We have special legal powers under section 17 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1995 which mean we can get any information that we need from any public body in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This means that we can get sensitive information from organisations like social services, the armed forces and intelligence agencies. We can obtain material that the police and the prosecution did not have to disclose to the defence (including Public Interest Immunity or PII material) and information from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority and others. 

We will use our special legal powers to get the information we think we need to review a case. We may use any information to review a case. We will always be very careful about releasing sensitive information to anyone outside the CCRC.

Do some cases get priority?

We look at cases in the order in which they arrive.

We do deal with the cases of people in prison before those of people who are out of prison or who didn’t go to prison. If you received a life sentence and are out on licence, we will treat you in the same way that we would treat someone who is in custody.  

We also deal with cases of people under 21 as a priority.

There may be special reasons why a particular case should be looked at more urgently.  These special reasons can be things like concerns about the health of the person applying, a serious illness affecting a potentially important witness, or something affecting how long evidence may last.  The time to tell us about any special reasons in your case will usually be after we have written to you to say we will be reviewing your case.

Will you investigate everything I think it should?

We will look carefully at all the points made by an applicant or their representative. We will decide what enquiries we think are needed in each case. We will consider requests for particular investigations, but we will only carry out work if we think it will help the review. Our decisions about what investigations to do are always based on the relevance and potential evidential value of the work in question.

Who will decide on my case?

Our Commissioners make the decision whether to send a case back to the appeal court. Our Commissioners come from a range of professional backgrounds. Many are legally qualified.

All have been chosen because of their experience. All have proven ability to make important decisions in complicated matters. Commissioners are appointed by The Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister.

How long will it take?

How long your case takes will depend on lots of things. A straightforward review might only take a few weeks. A more complicated review can take many months.

How can I contact you?

You can ring or email us – but we prefer to have things in writing. This is because it gives us a clear record of everything so we can go back to it when thinking about your case. Our details are in the Contact us page

Can I email you?

You can only contact us by email if you have scanned in your signed application form. You might prefer to use our online application form. After you have applied, you can contact us by email us about your case.

Will you visit me?

In most cases we can find out everything we need to in writing, or on the phone. If we think we need to talk to you face to face we can arrange a video conference or meeting with you.

We do not usually receive visitors at the CCRC office. If we decide that we do need to meet you, we will agree the meeting in advance.

What if you decide not to send my case for another appeal?

If you think you have not been treated fairly, you can make a formal complaint to the CCRC.

You can complain up to three months after we have closed your case. We will look at how the CCRC has behaved. We cannot review your case again under the formal complaint process.

If you think that there is something wrong with the way we made our decision, you can apply to the Administrative Court for judicial review. You do not have to complain to us before doing this. You should be aware that there are time limits in the judicial review processes.

You should seek independent legal advice before pursuing this route.

You can reapply to the CCRC. If you have some significant new evidence or argument
which has not been considered at trial, on appeal or in any earlier applications to the CCRC you can make a reapplication. You will need to complete a new form to tell us what is new.

You also need to tell us why it wasn’t included in your earlier application.

If you review my case, will that stop my deportation?

Applying to us does not give you an automatic right to have deportation proceedings suspended. If we refer your case for an appeal, then your deportation may be stopped until the appeal is finished. If you are deported after you have applied, we can review your case. You must provide us with a contact address or email address to do this.

Can my prison sentence be increased if I apply to you?

A prison sentence cannot be increased if you make an application to the CCRC. A sentence also cannot be increased if we send a case back to the appeal court.

Where can I find more information about you and how it works?

You can read more in our About us section. There is detailed information about us the CCRC in a series of documents on our website. These are called formal policies. You can download them by going to our casework policies page. You can also get them by writing to us.

Find answers to our most common queries on this page.

Our service is free

We do not charge anything so applying to us will not cost you any money.  Our service is free.

If you apply to us and your case is referred to the appeal court, the court cannot add to your sentence even if they turn down your appeal.

Can a prison sentence be increased if I apply to you?

A sentence cannot be increased if you apply to the CCRC. Also, a sentence cannot be increased if we send a case back to the appeal court.

Do I need a lawyer?

No, you do not need a lawyer to apply to us. If you fill out an application form and send it to us, we will look at your case. We will look into your case whether or not you are represented by a lawyer.

The case review process can involve complicated legal issues. A good lawyer can help you to understand these issues.

See our guidance for applicants’ legal representatives.

Will I get legal aid?

A solicitor may be able to get funding to help with your case under the Legal Aid scheme.

You can get advice about finding a lawyer by contacting Civil Legal Advice on 0845 345 4345.

Does the CCRC represent me?

The CCRC does not act as your lawyer. Our job is to look into your case independently. This means that we do not represent you, but it also means that we do not represent the police, the prosecution or anyone else. The CCRC is independent of everyone.

What will you do with my information?

If you apply to us we will use the information you give us to consider your case. This includes your personal information. This means that we may use the information you give us to get hold of material belonging to other organisations. This could be information about you.

It could be information about any other person. We will do this if we think it could have an impact on your case.

We have special legal powers get any material or information we need to look into a case.

We can get the information even if organisations or individuals do not want us to have it. We can get case related information from the police or the courts. We can get information from other places like the NHS and social services. Once we have started looking into a case we will decide what material we need.

We know how sensitive the information involved in our investigations can be. We always take great care of the information that we get when looking into cases. We try to get only what we need. We aim to keep the information only for as long as is reasonable.

We are very careful about how and when we share information about cases. We only share when it is allowed by the Criminal Appeal Act 1995 and the Data Protection Act 2018.

When a case is referred for an appeal by us, the information relevant to the appeal is usually shared. It is shared with the applicant, the appeal court, and the prosecution. When a case is referred for appeal, we usually issue a press release. The press release includes the reasons why it is being referred. We may also share information about the applicant with the Miscarriage of Justice Support Service which is a not-for-profit organisation that offers help to people who have been wrongly convicted.