Sentencing (Pre-consolidation Amendments) Bill

Explanatory Notes

Overview of the Bill

1 The purpose of the Sentencing (Pre-consolidation Amendments) Bill ("the Bill") is to make amendments to existing legislation in order to facilitate the enactment and operation of the Law Commission’s proposed Sentencing Code ("the Code"). The Code is a consolidation of legislation governing sentencing procedure which aims to ensure that the law relating to sentencing procedure is readily comprehensible and operates within a clear framework as efficiently as possible. It will provide the courts with a point of reference which can be amended and adapted to changing needs. The Code re-enacts law already in force. It does not alter its substance or effect.

2 The pre-consolidation amendments are generally limited to correcting minor errors and streamlining the law in the area being consolidated by the Code and only have effect for the purposes of the consolidation. They are required, or otherwise desirable, for the Code to operate as intended.

3 The Bill and the Code also introduce a new approach to dealing with changes in the law, referred to as the "clean sweep". The effect of the clean sweep is to remove historic and redundant layers of sentencing procedural legislation. Subject to some limited exceptions needed to protect an offender’s fundamental rights, the clean sweep will allow for all offenders convicted after the Code comes into force to be sentenced according to the most up to date law, irrespective of when they committed the offence.

4 Neither the Bill nor the Code introduce any new sentencing law. They do not alter the maximum penalties available for an offence or increase the scope of minimum sentencing provisions.

5 The Bill was first introduced in the previous Parliament where, in the 2017-2019 session, it reached House of Lords Report stage, after passing through a Special Public Bill Committee. It was then carried-over to the 2019 session where government amendments were tabled, but the Bill fell before reaching Third Reading. Those amendments have been incorporated into this Bill print.

6 Since the Bill was most recently considered in the last parliament the Government has included additional provisions which will correct anomalies in existing legislation that will be consolidated in the Sentencing Code, help to enable the Code to apply to the Armed Forces, ensure that existing powers to be consolidated in the Code are not inadvertently drawn too widely, and support powers to make subordinate legislation to be contained in the Code so they can operate properly.


Prepared 3rd March 2020