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Unveiling Criminal Case Precedents: Landmark Judgements You Should Know

Unveiling Criminal Case Precedents: Landmark Judgements You Should Know


Understanding past criminal case precedents is crucial for every criminal law practitioner. These landmark judgements serve as guiding principles in interpreting and applying the law. In this article, we will delve into some of the most significant criminal case precedents that have shaped the UK legal landscape.

Before we begin, it’s important to note that if you’re preparing for the SQE 1 exam, you should check out our SQE 1 Practice Exam Questions and SQE 1 Practice Mocks FLK1 FLK2 resources to enhance your exam readiness.

1. R v. Woolmington: Presumption of Innocence

The landmark case of R v. Woolmington in 1935 established the fundamental principle of “presumption of innocence.” This precedent affirmed that every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It set the standard for burden of proof in criminal cases and remains a cornerstone of the UK justice system.

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2. R v. Lipman: Voluntary Intoxication as No Defense

The case of R v. Lipman in 1970 clarified that voluntary intoxication cannot be used as a defense for committing a crime. This precedent reiterated that individuals are responsible for the consequences of their voluntary actions, regardless of their mental state induced by substances. The ruling emphasized personal accountability and deterrence of criminal behavior.

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3. R v. Brown: Consensual Acts and Public Interest

The case of R v. Brown in 1993 addressed the issue of consent in relation to certain sexual acts. The judgement held that, despite the presence of consent, acts that cause serious harm or involve a risk of harm cannot be condoned in the public interest. This ruling highlighted the importance of protecting vulnerable individuals and ensuring a society free from extreme and harmful behavior.


Studying and understanding landmark criminal case precedents is essential for all aspiring criminal law practitioners. These cases shape the legal landscape, establish principles, and guide the interpretation and application of the law. If you’re preparing for the SQE exams, be sure to check out our SRA SQE Exam Dates to stay updated on upcoming examination schedules and plan your study timeline effectively.