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Landmark Judgements that Shaped UK Criminal Law

Landmark Judgements that Shaped UK Criminal Law

As a solicitor, it is vital to stay up-to-date with the landmark judgements that have shaped UK criminal law. Understanding these key cases not only helps us navigate the legal landscape but also allows us to better advocate for our clients. In this blog post, we will explore some of the most significant judgements that have had a lasting impact on criminal law in the UK.

R v Collins (1972)

In the case of R v Collins, the court ruled that the police must inform suspects of their right to legal counsel before any formal questioning begins. This landmark judgement, often referred to as the “right to silence,” established the principle that individuals have the right to remain silent without adverse inferences being drawn against them. This decision has been crucial in safeguarding an accused person’s right to a fair trial.

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R v Brown (1993)

The case of R v Brown dealt with the issue of consensual sadomasochistic activities and their legal status. The House of Lords ruled that certain acts, even if consensual, could still be prosecuted as criminal offenses. This judgement highlighted the importance of societal interests and public policy considerations in shaping criminal law.

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R v Jogee (2016)

R v Jogee helped clarify the law on joint enterprise. The Supreme Court ruled that the principle of joint enterprise had been incorrectly interpreted for decades, leading to miscarriages of justice. The judgement held that mere foresight of someone else’s actions is not enough to establish guilt. Instead, a defendant must have actively encouraged or assisted in the commission of the crime. This decision had substantial ramifications on cases involving secondary parties.

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R v Dudley and Stephens (1884)

One of the most famous cases in English legal history is R v Dudley and Stephens. In this tragic case, the court considered the defense of necessity in the context of survival at sea. The defendants were stranded on a lifeboat and resorted to cannibalism to survive. Despite the circumstances, the court ruled that they were guilty of murder. This judgement established that the defense of necessity does not apply to cases involving the intentional taking of human life.

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R v Goode (2005)

In R v Goode, the House of Lords examined the concept of duress in relation to murder. The court clarified that, in certain circumstances, a defendant can argue that they acted under duress when charged with murder. This judgement highlighted the importance of considering the defendant’s state of mind and the immediacy of the threat they faced when determining criminal liability.

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The Importance of Landmark Judgements

Landmark judgements play a pivotal role in shaping UK criminal law. They establish precedents that guide future legal decisions and provide a framework for solicitors and barristers to build their cases. These significant rulings ensure fairness, justice, and consistency in the application of the law.

Stay informed about the latest developments in criminal law and practice by regularly reviewing and analyzing landmark judgements. This knowledge will strengthen your legal expertise and ultimately benefit your clients.

For more information on criminal law and the SQE exams, visit SQE Criminal Law & Practice UK.