The CCRC is an independent body which investigates miscarriages of justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It looks into criminal cases where people think there has been a miscarriage of justice and they have been wrongly convicted or the sentence they received was clearly excessive.

The CCRC will usually only consider applications in cases where people have already unsuccessfully appealed their conviction or sentence. It will not look at cases which have not been appealed unless there are some exceptional circumstances which mean that it makes the most sense for the CCRC to get involved (such as the need carry out sensitive enquiries). These cases are very rare. Disagreeing with the outcome of a trial or the sentence given is not enough.

There is no time limit on applying to the CCRC although older cases are often more difficult. This is because witnesses may have disappeared (or died) or because evidence and paperwork has been lost or destroyed.

The role of the CCRC is to take a fresh look at the case and, in particular, any new evidence. Generally, the CCRC will not look at points which have been already properly considered by the Court of Appeal unless there is good reason to do so. This could be the case where significant new evidence has come to light or where another major issue affects the safety of the conviction or sentence.

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The CCRC has a number of special powers to help it review a case. These including the following:

  • power to obtain documents and information from private and public bodies (including the police, the prosecution and the courts)
  • power to trace and interview new and old witnesses
  • power to instruct an expert to provide an opinion.


The CCRC does not have power to overturn or change the court’s decision. If an application to the CCRC is successful, it will refer the case to the Court of Appeal, which must then give the person permission to appeal. The appeal will be heard in London by the Court of Appeal.

Some statistics

  • Only around 3% of cases considered by the CCRC are referred to the Court of Appeal.
  • Around 67% of cases referred by the CCRC are successful in the Court of Appeal.
  • The CCRC aims to complete 85% of reviews within 12 months.

The importance of expert legal help and advice

In most cases, an application to the CCRC will be the only option left for individuals who have been wrongly convicted or sentenced. It is therefore vital that the application is as robust as possible. Although individuals do not have be legally represented, getting legal help from the right solicitor can make all the difference the chances of success.

We have over 30 years’ experience of successfully defending serious criminal cases and appealing wrongful convictions and sentences. We also have experience of successfully applying to the CCRC.


In our experience, obtaining legal aid to cover legal costs for an application to the CCRC is exceptionally difficult. Due to the high level of expertise required and the time often involved, we have decided that we will only deal with CCRC cases on a private paying basis.

We will always discuss with you how much our legal costs for dealing with your CCRC case are likely to be and, where possible, we will agree fixed costs with you for each stage of the process. This may involve agreeing a fee to look at your case and provide an initial opinion on the likelihood of a CCRC application being successful.

Information about our private charges is available on our Funding page.

A selection of our appeal and CCRC cases

R v W

A G’s Reference that the sentence received by W was too lenient. W had played a part in the murder of female jockey, however, he had pleaded guilty to a robbery. Successfully defended sentence.

R v F

It was alleged that paintings worth £20 million came from an aggravated burglary in the early 1980s. F alleged that the paintings never formed part of the burglary and the police had stolen them from him.

R v K

The case, which involved police officer jurors, was a referral from the European Court of Justice. The CCRC agreed the conviction was unsafe.

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