UCL Faculty of Laws


Developing a clearer Sentencing Code

UCL Laws’ Professor Ormerod led the Law Commission team to produce a new, more accessible Sentencing Code for England and Wales.

Status of Lady Justice at the top of the Old Bailey in Central London

Before the introduction of the new Code, the law governing sentencing procedure was contained in hundreds of separate provisions developed over decades. The provisions were often overlapping, technical and complex, making it very difficult for even experienced judges and lawyers to identify and apply sentencing law accurately.

The new Code, which was given Royal Assent on 22 October 2020, brings together all that law into a single statute. Doing away with unhelpful complexity, the new Code will reduce delays, costly appeals and unlawful sentences. The Law Commission anticipates it is likely to result in a saving of £250m in the first ten years it is in force.

Professor David Ormerod KC, Chair in Criminal Law at UCL Laws, led the project in his role as Criminal Law Commissioner while on secondment from UCL. Professor Ormerod oversaw a team of experts from legal practice and the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel on the drafting of the new document.

The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland QC said: “This is a generational moment. As a former Recorder, I know how hard it can be for judges and practitioners to apply such complex laws. The new Sentencing Code will help provide much needed clarity, reducing errors and restoring faith that the law is being applied correctly.”

As well as teaching law at UCL, Professor Ormerod regularly delivers training to judges, barristers, solicitors and Crown prosecutors, as well advising organisations such as the Criminal Bar Association. In recognition of his contribution to the criminal justice system, he was awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours 2021.

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