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

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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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
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Northumbria University
  • Arthur, Raymond, Supervisor
  • McCartney, Carole, Supervisor
  • Robson, Andrew, Supervisor
Award date10 Nov 2017
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Oct 2016


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