Sentencing legislation is so voluminous, complex and technical that it has become almost unworkable as a scheme of law and yet it must be used and understood by judges and practitioners on a daily basis. It is vital that it can be properly applied because sentencing represents a crucial step in the criminal justice process: the fair and just determination of a criminal penalty on conviction and the clear, confident declaration of that penalty by the sentencing court.
With legislation that is so impenetrable, it is no surprise that The Referencer which provides such clear and practical guidance has become so well respected and so heavily used by even the most experienced criminal justice practitioner. It contains the essential information that is so hard to find in the legislation itself or elsewhere. These include the all too elusive commencement dates and guidance on avoiding the numerous pitfalls created by the prescriptive obligations on judges when sentencing. The material is presented in an accessible manner with user friendly tables and flow charts. For many, it is quite simply the usual starting point from which they can confidently find a path through the maze of legislation.
The enormity of the task in producing yet another edition is not to be underestimated. This is an area of law renowned for the degree and pace of change. The new edition incorporates numerous legislative and case law developments of the last 12 months. In doing so, Lyndon Harris has maintained the simplicity and clarity which have been a hallmark of The Referencer’s success. The task of revising the text of the undisputed master of the subject—the late great Dr David Thomas QC—is an unenviable one. Lyndon Harris is to be congratulated for producing an edition which maintains the very high standards he set.
Professor David Ormerod QC
Law Commissioner for England and Wales