A rare expert analysis of the law and its faults. Shows how Governments have failed to grapple with defects in this area of crime and punishment. Dispels the myths that lie behind politicians’ excuses for not creating a modern and just law of murder.
Many people will find it hard to believe that deep within key aspects of the Law of England and Wales there lie significant defects—such is the extent to which our laws and justice system have been routinely described as ‘the best in the world’. This new analysis by reform group Modernising Justice demonstrates just how wrong this view is in relation to one of the most serious all crimes. Murder remains a common law offence based on an ancient and somewhat vague definition and beset with an approach to punishment still steeped in the fallout from the abolition of the death penalty. The authors demonstrate just why change is needed. Their arguments are set out concisely and with a directness not often found in legal debates. Their ongoing correspondence with successive Ministers of Justice is reproduced to demonstrate how cautiously the Executive tends to move in an arena where law and order policies can be judged (and elections won or lost) by popular responses to this particular crime.
From the Foreword
‘The dispassionate study which this paper calls for would pinpoint the parts of the law that cry out for change so that victims and their families never again have to suffer the uncertainties’— Sir Henry Brooke.
Modernising Justice was created in 2004 as the Homicide Review Advisory Group (HomRAG), for the purpose of running alongside the work of the Law Commission as it reviewed aspects of the law on murder. It was set up on the initiative of Sir Louis Blom-Cooper QC and the late Professor Terence Morris, and initially chaired by the late Very Reverend Colin Slee, Dean of Southwark. The group is concerned with promoting a just law of murder.
The author of the Foreword
The late-Sir Henry Brooke, CMG, PC retired as a Lord Justice of Appeal in 2006. He was chair of the Law Commission for three years from January 1993, the judge in charge of the modernisation of the English law courts from 2001 to 2004, and Vice-President of the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) from 2003 to 2006.