Clarity and the criminal law

Slapper, Gary (2007). Clarity and the criminal law. Journal of Criminal Law, 71(6) pp. 475–477.



In 1873, Baron Martin stated that 'The criminal law ought to be reasonable and intelligible' (R v Middleton (1873) L.R. 2 Crown Ca. Res. 57). That proposition is just as potent today as when it was made. As the branch of law incorporating the ultimate powers of control which the state exercises over citizens, criminal law should be consonant with common sense and be perfectly clear to the public. It is difficult to argue that current law on drugs is clear, coherent, and understood by the public.

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