Practice and Procedure

Law Commission: Sentencing Procedure

PUBLISHED July 1, 2015

The Law Commission has today published its first consultation as part of its ongoing project to create a New Sentencing Code for England and Wales. A .pdf copy is attached to this email – it can also be downloaded from
The law on sentencing affects all criminal cases, and is applied in hundreds of thousands of trials and at thousands of appeals each year. Currently, the law lacks coherence and clarity: it is spread across many statutes, and frequent updates are brought into force at different times by different statutory instruments and have a variety of transitional arrangements. Our aim in this project is to introduce a single sentencing statute that will act as the first and only port of call for sentencing tribunals. It will set out the relevant provisions in a clear and logical way, and ensure that all updates to sentencing procedure can be found in a single place. It is not the aim of this project to interfere with mandatory minimum sentences or with sentencing tariffs in general. Those will remain entirely untouched, but the process by which they come to be imposed will be streamlined and much improved.
This first paper is about the process of transition to the Code. Whilst a seemingly technical issue, it is in fact vital to the success of the Code: we think that to maximise its impact the new Code should apply to everyone being sentenced after its implementation. We want to avoid judges being forced to continue to use the complex existing procedural regimes for months if not years to come. As set out in this paper, we explain why sweeping away the vast bulk of the historic sentencing procedure will cause no unfairness to the defendant, nor will it involve any breach of human rights obligations, as long as certain basic safeguards are observed.
The Issues Paper contains consultation questions for stakeholders on our preferred approach, and we would be extremely grateful if you could lend us your expertise by responding to them. The consultation period will last for 8 weeks from today, closing on 26 August 2015.
Sentencing Procedure - Issues Paper - Transition (online)