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Book reviews

20 October 08

Review of Criminal Law (Jones & Christie), 4th ed

by Daniel Scullion

The fourth edition of this well known work takes account of many of the developments which have taken place in our criminal law since the previous edition was published in June 2003. A number of the legislative changes of the past five years are considered, as are a number of decisions of the appeal court over the same period. The law is stated as at 1 March 2008.

Whilst the authors have adhered to the format utilised in the previous edition, each of the 14 chapters has been updated and re-annotated where appropriate, some extensively so, as have the tables and appendices. It is clear that careful consideration has been given to the overall structure and layout of this text. The opening chapter contains a helpful introduction to some of the basic principles of the criminal law. The closing chapter – “Conclusion” – which the authors themselves describe as an uncommon feature in a work of this kind, juxtaposes a brief but interesting discussion of the historical development of our common law alongside thought-provoking material relevant to potential future reform. Between these bookends the text proceeds fluently in a logical direction, providing the reader en route with detailed discussion and analysis of the main aspects of the substantive criminal law of Scotland, including, but not restricted to, its nature and sources, the underlying principles of liability and responsibility, common law crimes, statutory offences and defences.

The text is annotated in a comprehensive and informative manner which will assist greatly those interested in further research of the topics under discussion. The copious footnotes provided throughout guide the reader through a plethora of additional relevant material, including citation and discussion of relevant prior authority as well as reference to many other texts and published articles. In addition to the reference tables provided, the volume has four appendices containing useful information, inter alia, on bibliography, citation of authority and our court structure.

It is neither possible nor appropriate to provide a comprehensive list of the new material which has been considered by the authors in this edition, but Acts of the Westminster Parliament whose impact has to some extent been discussed include the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 and the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. Acts of the Scottish Parliament similarly considered include the Criminal Procedure (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2004, the Vulnerable Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2004 and the Criminal Proceedings etc (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007. Consideration has also been given to prospective legislation, namely the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Bill 2007. The decisions made by the appeal court over the last five years which have been considered and referred to in context include Webster v Dominick, Transco plc v HMA (No 1), and Jones v Carnegie and the cases associated therewith.

The index produced for this edition is both lengthier and different in layout to that utilised in the previous edition. The refined and detailed categorisation of topics which has been employed will no doubt be appreciated by those searching for a quick route to a particular destination, although one wonders whether the extensive information indexed by reference to specific categories of crimes required repetition only a few pages later under reference to specific categories of offences. This, however, is a minor observation only, perhaps of no importance, and one appreciates that a degree of duplication may well be inevitable when compiling any index.

Overall this interesting and well written book has been crafted and constructed in a way which ensures that it is user friendly and very readable. The authors explain in the preface to this edition that they have endeavoured to present an account of Scottish criminal law which is sensitive to its traditions whilst simultaneously taking account of modern theoretical work on the criminal law. It respectfully seems to me that they have achieved the goal which they had set for themselves. Mr Jones and Mr Christie have produced a work which will be of considerable assistance to students and practitioners and which will also be of interest to any others who have a serious interest in the criminal law of Scotland.

Daniel Sculliono

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