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Abolishing consensual stop and search: would this leave gaps in the law?

Published on: Author: James Chalmers Leave a comment

One issue which the Independent Advisory Group on Stop and Search will have to consider is whether it should continue to be possible for the police to search individuals on a “consensual” basis. At present, the consent of a person to being searched is sufficient for a search to be carried out, even if there… Continue reading

The People versus Carmichael: what would have to be proven for legal action to succeed?

Published on: Author: James Chalmers 11 Comments

The National reports that an election petition against Alistair Carmichael is to be lodged today, backed by a crowdfunding campaign called “The People versus Carmichael”. What would need to be established for this to be successful? Here’s a quick analysis (not, I should acknowledge, based on exhaustive knowledge of electoral law, and so corrections are… Continue reading

TV licences and decriminalisation: has anyone noticed what happens in Scotland?

Published on: Author: James Chalmers 2 Comments

According to a report by The Guardian today, the newly-elected Conservative government intends to revive plans to decriminalise non-payment of the television licence fee. A small curiosity: something very similar to this seems to have happened in Scotland already, and no-one seems to have noticed. Some background first. The extent to which people were being… Continue reading

Because you might be innocent, your conviction must stand

Published on: Author: James Chalmers 3 Comments

      The decision of the appeal court in RR v HM Advocate [2015] HCJAC 34, published today, is a curious case and worthy of note. In summary, the following happened. R was employed as a door steward at licensed premises in Aberdeen. In January 2014, she was engaged in a verbal altercation with… Continue reading

Assisted suicide: why the Lord Advocate is wrong

Published on: Author: James Chalmers Leave a comment

  On 31 March, the Herald published a letter signed by 21 legal academics in Scotland (including me) arguing that the current debate on the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill had drawn attention to an “alarming lack of clarity in Scots law”, accompanied by a front-page news report. This followed written evidence which Professor Pamela Ferguson… Continue reading

The Scottish law of homicide: “clear and accessible”?

Published on: Author: James Chalmers Leave a comment

Today, the Herald published a letter signed by myself and 20 other Scottish legal academics, arguing that the law (and prosecution policy) on assisted suicide is shamefully unclear and in need of reform. We said, in part: “The absence of either case law or legislative authority in Scotland means that the response to almost any… Continue reading

Reforming rape law in Scotland and Sweden

Published on: Author: James Chalmers 1 Comment

On Monday of this week, the School of Law hosted a seminar on the reform of the law of sexual offences, with delegates both from Scotland and Sweden. The seminar formed part of a visit to Scotland by members of the Swedish Sexual Offences Commission of 2014. Why might a delegation from Sweden be interested… Continue reading

Reforming corporate homicide: reasons to be sceptical

Published on: Author: James Chalmers Leave a comment

In December of last year, Richard Baker MSP lodged a proposal for a Culpable Homicide (Scotland) Bill in the Scottish Parliament. What would this Bill do? It purports to (partially) put the law of culpable homicide on a statutory footing, but its intention is principally to reform the law relating to corporate liability for homicide.… Continue reading

Think governments are creating more criminal offences than ever before? Think again.

Published on: Author: James Chalmers Leave a comment
Stair building, University of Glasgow

It is widely assumed that the rate at which governments create criminal offences by legislation has increased significantly in recent years. The orthodox position in criminal law scholarship (and in news reports on criminalisation) is to treat this as established fact, but there is little if any empirical evidence to support the assumption. In a… Continue reading