Lord Justice Treacy: Keynote address to the Criminal Law Review Conference

Lord Justice Treacy provided the keynote address to the Criminal Law Review Conference on Thursday 3 December 2015. His address covered four themes:

  • How the Sentencing Council contributes to justice reform and efficiency, through its work on allocation and guilty pleas.
  • The new health and safety offences guidelines.
  • An explanation of how the Sentencing Council ensures the consideration of victims within the sentencing process.
  • Other work currently in progress.

The following points are likely to be of interest to business crime lawyers:

The updated allocation guidelines are due to be published during the week commencing 7 December 2015,  and will come into force on 1 March 2016. LJ Treacy stated that the courts will, in future, move away from taking the Crown’s case at its highest and actively seek representations from both sides as to venue. It is anticipated that this will result in fewer cases being sent to the Crown Court.

A consultation on guidelines for guilty pleas will be opened in early 2016. The consultation will focus on providing clarity as to what constitutes a plea at the “first available opportunity” and the level of reductions permissible. The consultation will also focus on encouraging more defendants to plead guilty at the earliest stage of proceedings, although LJ Treacy was keen to remark “We are not aiming to influence whether an offender pleads guilty, rather when a plea is entered”.

The new guidelines on health and safety, corporate manslaughter and food safety and hygiene offences comes into force on 1 February 2016. The guidelines will provide detailed assistance to the courts in assessing the means of corporate offenders, requiring the court to consider:

  • Turnover
  • Profit margins
  • The impact on employees.
  • The impact on the organisation’s ability to improve conditions or make restitution to victims.
Practical Law David Bacon

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