Guideline judgments on sentencing issued by appeal courts in Scotland have been brought together in a new online resource launched by the Scottish Sentencing Council.
Judges in the High Court, when sitting as an appeal court, and in the Sheriff Appeal Court, have the power under ss 118(7) and 189(7) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 to make a decision in an appeal case that gives guidance to other judges about the appropriate sentence to use in similar types of cases. There are only a handful of such guideline judgments to date – six have been posted to the website – and the Council has a statutory duty to publish them.
The Council’s new web pages bring together the guideline judgments issued by the High Court, along with explanatory summaries and a selected list of other useful opinions.
They form part of a larger focus on sentencing practice in Scotland available to the public, legal practitioners and other organisations working within the criminal justice system. All the information is linked to a "jargon buster" which explains legal terminology in easy to understand language.
Sentencing Council chair Lady Dorrian, the Lord Justice Clerk, said: “We are working to bring together information on sentencing practice in Scotland to create a helpful and user-friendly resource. This latest addition to our website covers guideline judgments issued by the High Court with summaries that briefly explain the main principles of the opinions in an accessible way.
“We are working to create a ‘go to’ resource for anyone wishing to better understand how sentences are decided in our courtrooms every day.”
Any new opinions issued by the High Court or the Sheriff Appeal Court in the future will be added to the website.
The Council is continuing to expand its sentencing material and invites suggestions for further additions: email firstname.lastname@example.org.