Scottish Sentencing Council launches guideline judgment resource

Lady Dorrian

The Scottish Sentencing Council has launched a new resource which brings together guideline judgements issued by the High Court, along with helpful summaries and a selected list of other useful opinions.

Judges in the High Court (when it is sitting as an appeal court), or in the Sheriff Appeal Court, have the power under sections 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. These judgments are known as “guideline judgments”. There are only a handful in Scotland, and the council has a statutory duty to publish them.

The council’s new web pages include the full text of the guideline judgments issued to date as well as other useful opinions that provide guidance on sentencing issues. Together, they form a comprehensive and accessible resource as 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.

The new section follows on from the recently launched About Sentencing’pages which provide information on how a judge decides a sentence, and what sentences are available in Scotland.

All the information is linked to the council’s jargon buster which explains legal terminology in easy to understand language.

Sentencing Council chair Lady Dorrian 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 our sentencing material and if you would like to suggest further additions please email:

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