Another harrumph

A lovely opening slap on the rule of law from High Court Judge, Mr Justice Mitting:

Section 174(1)(b)(i) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 requires a court passing sentence to explain to an offender in ordinary language the effect of the sentence. This requirement has been in place since 1991. These proceedings show that, in relation to perfectly ordinary consecutive sentences imposed since the coming into force of much of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, that task is impossible. Indeed, so impossible is it that it has taken from 12 noon until 12 minutes to 5, with a slightly lengthier short adjournment than usual for reading purposes, to explain the relevant statutory provisions to me, a professional judge.

The position at which I have arrived and which I will explain in detail in a moment is one of which I despair. It is simply unacceptable in a society governed by the rule of law for it to be well nigh impossible to discern from statutory provisions what a sentence means in practice.

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