R v Wang

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Her Majesty the Queen v Wang
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom.svg
CourtHouse of Lords
Full case nameHer Majesty the Queen, Respondent vs Cheong Wang, Appellant
Decided10 February 2005 (2005-02-10)
Citation(s)[2005] 1 WLR 661, [2005] UKHL 9, [2005] 1 All ER 782, [2005] 2 Cr App R 8
Case history
Prior action(s)Wang, R. v [2003] EWCA Crim 3228 (Laws LJ, Curtis J, Recorder of Cardiff)
Appealed fromCourt of Appeal of England and Wales (Criminal Division)
Case opinions
Their Lordships determined that there are no circumstances in which a judge is entitled to direct a jury to return a verdict of guilty. The appeal was allowed and the conviction of the defendant was quashed.
Court membership
Judges sittingLord Bingham of Cornhill, Lord Steyn, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe, Lord Carswell
Case opinions
Decision byOpinion of the committee

Regina v Wang (2005) is a legal case, in the criminal law in England and Wales, establishing that a judge in England or in Wales is not entitled to direct, or instruct, order or require, a jury to return a verdict of guilty.


On the 27 February 2002, Mr Cheong Wang, a Chinese political asylum-seerker and a Buddhist, of the Shaolin Sect, was a passenger awaiting at Clacton-on-Sea railway station, in the County of Essex, when his bag became stolen. He conducted a search, and the bag was then found in the possession of a thief, whom he attempted to "detain", and from whom the bag was recovered. From the recovered bag, Wang then produced a curved martial-arts sword, with a sheath. In the ensuring altercation, or disturbance, the local Police was called in, and upon a further search of the bag by the Police a small Ghurkha-style kukri knife was discovered. For all these, Wang was indicted on two counts, of having an article with a blade or point in a public place, contrary to Section 139(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (c. 33).

Wang was tried in the Crown Court at Chelmsford, also in Essex, before His Honour Judge Pearson, Circuit Judge, with a jury. Upon the 28 August 2002, Wang was convicted, upon the Circuit Judge's direction of the Jury, of the two offences, and he was on the 4 October 2002 conditionally discharged, for a period of 12 months. Forfeiture orders were also issued by the Circuit Judge for the two offending articles.

Appeal to the Court of Appeal[edit]

He appealed against his conviction to the Court of Appeal, and the appeal was heard before Laws LJ, Curtis J and the Recorder of Cardiff. They dismissed the appeal, concluding that a judge was entitled to direct the jury to convict provided that 'it is plain beyond sensible argument that the material before the jury could not in law suffice to discharge the burden' necessary to satisfy the defence.[1]

Appeal to the House of Lords[edit]

Wang duly appealed to the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords. In a unanimous opinion, the appellate committee allowed his appeal and quashed his conviction, concluding that 'there are no circumstances in which a judge is entitled to direct a jury to return a verdict of guilty' because a 'belief that the jury would probably, and rightly, have convicted does not [enable a trial judge to give a direction to convict] ... when there were matters which could and should have been the subject of their consideration'.[2]


The judgment settled the law in England and Wales by providing a clear authority in an area of uncertainty.[3][4] The case caused the Criminal Cases Review Commission to refer the 1972 conviction of Edward Caley-Knowles to the Court of Appeal.[5] Caley-Knowles's conviction was subsequently quashed based on the authority of Wang.[6]


  1. ^ Wang, R. v [2003] EWCA Crim 3228 (10 December 2003)
  2. ^ Wang, R v [2005] UKHL 9 (10 February 2005)
  3. ^ P. Gillies & A. Dahdal, "Directions to Convict", The International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law, (2007) pp 3-6
  4. ^ "D. Rhodes, Can a judge ever direct a jury to convict the defendant? Life in Crime SJ/1599 (London, 8 December 2006)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-07-31.
  5. ^ Criminal Cases Review Commission, Commission refers cases of Edward Caley- Knowles & Iorwerth Jones to Court of Appeal over jury verdicts Archived 2011-09-28 at the Wayback Machine (Birmingham, 9 November 2005) (accessed: 13 June 2011)
  6. ^ BBC News, Conviction quashed after 34 years (21 June 2006) (accessed: 13 June 2010)