A New Sentencing Code

A new consultation on the law of sentencing procedures has been launched by the Law Commission.

The plans do not affect the length or type of sentences but seek to bring greater clarity to the guidelines to enable defendants to better understand the language. It is not often clear how the various parliamentary acts, some dating as far back as the 14th century apply, so the Law Commission hopes to offer a technical fix to modernise the law and bring about greater transparency.

Law Commissioner Professor David Ormerod QC said: “People want and expect clarity and transparency when the Courts sentence offenders, but judges face an increasingly difficult task when doing so.

“Our changes will make sentencing simpler, by getting rid of the need to dust off decades’ old law, cut Court waiting times and help make sure people get the justice they deserve.”

The project’s aim is to introduce a single sentencing statute that will act as the comprehensive source of sentencing law – the “Sentencing Code”.

The Sentencing Code would:

  • help stop unlawful sentences by providing a single reference point for the law of sentencing, simplify many complex provisions and remove the need to refer to historic legislation;
  • save up to £255 million over the next decade by avoiding unnecessary appeals and reducing delays in sentencing clogging up the Court system;
  • rewrite the law in modern language, improving public confidence and allowing non-lawyers to understand sentencing more easily;
  • remove the unnecessary layers of historic legislation; and
  • allow judges to use the modern sentencing powers for both current and historic cases, making cases simpler to deal with and ensuring justice is better served.

The public consultation is open until 26 January 2018 and more details can be found on the Law Commission’s website.

Blaser Mills’ Criminal Defence team represents clients charged with a range of offences at sentencing hearings. If you are facing criminal prosecution and wish to understand the likely sentences you could receive, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the team on 020 3814 2020 and they will be happy to assist you.