The Supreme Court has ruled that the law concerning joint enterprise, in which co-accused could be convicted of murder even if they do not administer the fatal blow, had taken a “wrong turn” in the 1980s. Following yesterday’s announcement the Crown Prosecution Service will now have to prove that an individual has actively assisted in, or encouraged, the killing to secure a conviction for murder. Law of Joint Enterprise: Has the Supreme Court restored balance to the scales of justice?

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Less than eight months after it was introduced the UK Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, has announced that the infamous ‘court fee system’ will be scrapped as of the 24th December 2015.

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A recent Panorama episode on the BBC “Tough Justice in Britain: Texas Style” gave a fascinating insight into Texas’ criminal justice revolution, where the traditional “hard on crime, hard on sentencing” view is a thing of the past. It was claimed that this revolution had led to the shutting of prisons due to crime rates reducing significantly. The success is based on, in part, the development of specialist courts, zero tolerance on drugs and alcohol, provision of therapy, and a problem solving approach to sentencing, rather than punishment. We were introduced to “Judge Bobby Francis” who, in Dallas County, runs such a court. He, himself, a Conservative Republican, claims 8 out of 10 defendants that pass through his courts “graduate”. Interestingly, he also described taking a “father figure” approach towards the defendants.

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With the globalisation of social media and the Smartphone being the ever present medium by which news is accessed; key influencers such as newspapers, websites, magazines, bloggers, freelance journalists and broadcasters bombard us with a constant stream of articles and posts. But sometimes a unique story breaks through the noise which captures the public’s attention and raises important questions and debates. An example of this can be seen with an emotive, divisive and perplexing criminal trial in the North West. In brief, a female defendant posed as a male (allegedly creating an alter ego) and engaged in a sexual relationship with a female. The fundamental confusion in this case - based on the national press coverage and social media activity across Facebook and Twitter - comes down to the basic question, whether the complainant consented?

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It’s the trial that’s captured the fascination of the world’s press and people since it began on 3rd March 2014 – that of Oscar Pistorius and the Valentine’s Day murder of model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in Pretoria, South Africa. Eventual sentencing on 21st October 2014 saw the Paraolympian sentenced for ‘culpable homicide’ the equivalent to that of manslaughter in UK law, a decision that was met with mixed reactions with just five years imprisonment.

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