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Applications for release of counselling records in certain criminal cases

Section 19A of the Criminal Evidence Act 1992 (inserted by section 39 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017) commenced on 30th May 2018.

It provides for a procedure whereby, in the prosecution of offences listed in Schedule 1 to the Sex Offenders Act 2001 the prosecutor will have to notify the accused of the existence of a counselling record, But they will not be able to disclose the content of the record to the accused without leave of the court. The accused will be able to make an application for the disclosure of the record prior to the trial commencing. Such application will have to be made on notice to the person who has possession or control of the counselling record, the complainant, the prosecutor and any other person to whom the accused believes the counselling record relates of his or her intention to make the application. The prosecutor will also be able to apply for the disclosure of the counselling record if they believe it is in the interests of justice for it to be disclosed.

The application will normally be made on notice to the prosecutor/accused and the complainant/witness concerned prior to the commencement of the trial. However, it should be noted that section 19A(14)(b) provides for an application to be made after the commencement of the trial if the interests of justice so require.