The Impartiality of the England and Wales Court of Appeal (Criminal Division): A Quantitative Analysis

Dargue, Paul (2016) The Impartiality of the England and Wales Court of Appeal (Criminal Division): A Quantitative Analysis. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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This thesis analyses the development, methodology, and results of a quantitative study of the decision-making of the England and Wales Court of Appeal (Criminal Division). The Court of Appeal plays an important constitutional role, and the impartiality of the judges is central to its legitimacy. Drawing upon research from the Empirical Legal Studies (ELS) research community, this thesis explores the question of the Court of Appeal’s impartiality.

As an incomplete measurement of impartiality, a sample of the Court of Appeal’s decisions has been analysed. A dataset of all murder and rape appeals against conviction decided between 2006 and 2010 has been created. A range of factual, demographic, and legal variables have been collected from each of these 472 appeals against conviction, utilising quantitative content analysis. It has been determined, utilising binary logistic regression analysis, whether the variables under analysis are predictors of the outcome of appeals against conviction.

Almost all of the variables analysed showed only a limited ability to predict the outcomes of appeals. Moreover, this study finds support for the legal model of judicial decision-making. A variable designed to capture impartial decision-making had the strongest association with the outcome of appeals. However, a small number of factual and demographic variables are shown to be predictors of outcomes. There is insufficient evidence to doubt the impartiality of the Court of Appeal, but the emergence of these patterns in the data warrants further investigation. This conclusion is important to users and observers of the Court, to whom the impartiality, and so legitimacy, of the Court’s decision-making is essential.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: M200 Law by Topic
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Northumbria Law School
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2018 08:19
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 22:51

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