Law Commission Consulting on “Sentencing Code”

The Law Commission is consulting upon the possibility of introducing a single sentencing statute, a “Sentencing Code”, to become the comprehensive source for all sentencing law

The aims of the Sentencing Code would be to:

Seek to prevent the imposition of unlawful sentences by providing a single reference point for the law of sentencing. This would simplify many of the present complex provisions and would also remove the necessity of referring to historic legislation;

Hopefully save a large amount of money (estimated to be up to £255m over ten years) by reducing the number of unnecessary appeals and reducing delays in sentencing, which case delays in the appeal courts;

Apply modern language so that it is easier to understand and can be seen to be relevant to contemporary society, thereby improving public confidence and allowing people who are not qualified lawyers to understand the process as it applies to sentencing;

Be able to dispense with a vast and complicated array of old law, which could lead to the revocation of many old statutes; and

Enable judges to use the modern sentencing powers for both new and historic cases. This would making cases simpler to deal with and ensure that justice is both done and can be seen to be done in a way that properly serves the interests of justice.

The proposed “Sentencing Code” would not:

Change the maximum sentences for criminal offences;

Result in any offender receiving a more severe penalty than that which they could have had imposed at the time of the commission of the offence they have committed;

Extend the minimum sentencing provisions or create new minimum sentences;

Remove or reduce the discretion of the Judiciary; or

Replace either the sentencing guidelines or the work or role of the Sentencing Council.

At the moment, sentencing can be an immensely complicated issue. It is widely recognised as an area that needs an urgent overhaul.

For further details, see the Law Commission website.

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