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Date: Mon, 2 Apr 2007 02:45

From: Neil Foster

Subject: Crime in England


Dear Jason et al

A brief comment from the Australian perspective. I teach occupational health and safety law, and the supposed distinction between "true crimes" and "mere regulatory offences" has bedevilled this area for some time. One reason for that is that OHS offences tend to be characterised in the "mere regulatory" group, despite the fact that breach of such legislation may lead to serious injury and/or death. An unfortunate comment (from my point of view) was made by Tuckey LJ in Davies v Health and Safety Executive [2002] EWCA Crim 2949 at para [31]:

the defendant in cases where the reverse burden of proof applies does not face imprisonment. The offence involves failure to comply with an objective standard. The consequences of such failure may be newsworthy in some cases but the moral obloquy is not the same as that involved in truly criminal offences.

I otherwise agree with the result in that case but don't think it was necessary to characterise OHS offences in this way. Still, the point is that Tuckey LJ seems to offer "lack of moral obloquy" as one criterion for identifying something which is not a "true crime".

Does this mean that in Canada all the Provincial criminal law is characterised as "merely regulatory"?


Neil Foster

Neil Foster
Newcastle Law School
Faculty of Business & Law
University of Newcastle
Callaghan NSW 2308
ph 02 4921 7430
fax 02 4921 6931


>>> Jason Neyers 31/03/07 10:21 >>>

Dear Colleagues:

How does one separate out true crimes from mere regulatory offences in the UK/England? Is such a distinction ever made? In Canada it is sometimes necessary since the federal government has sole constitutional authority over crime and almost all crimes are in the federal Criminal Code. Does this issue ever come up in the UK/England? Even if it is not done in practice, is there some good conceptual literature that deals with this distinction from an English common law perspective?

Any help would be appreciated.


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