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An analysis of the Sentencing Code

20. Jun 2020

"The Sentencing Code achieves its principal ambition, namely the simplification of sentencing by codifying a disparate body of law in a single enactment."

The Sentencing Bill has begun its passage through parliament, having received its first reading in the House of Lords in March. The Bill contains a 'Sentencing Code'. Once in force, the Sentencing Code will provide a single reference point for the law on sentencing and will apply to all offenders convicted of an offence after 1 October 2020.

The Sentencing Code is concerned with sentencing procedure and does not introduce any new substantive laws. The Law Commission, which proposed this legislative reform, describes the effect of the Sentencing Code as a 'clean sweep' which will replace all existing procedural law around sentencing and codify it in a single document. The central purpose of the reform is to simplify an area of law which it considers too complicated, citing the striking statistic that in 2012, 95 of 262 randomly sampled cases before the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal involved an unlawful sentence. Similarly, in one week in 2019, 25% of the cases involved an unlawful sentence.

In order to address these issues, the Sentencing Code simplifies a number of complex provisions, removing the need to refer to any historic legislation and rewriting the law in modern language. Its overriding aim is to bring a clear and logical structure to sentencing law, reducing the risk of error and delay, and making it more accessible for the public, judiciary and practitioners. It does not alter the maximum penalties for any offence, nor does it reduce judicial discretion in sentencing or replace existing sentencing guidelines...

[Read the full article [Law Gazette]]

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