Duty to give reasons for and explain the effect of a sentence

The following Corporate Crime practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Duty to give reasons for and explain the effect of a sentence
  • Duty to follow sentencing guidelines
  • Duty to give reasons and explain the effect of sentence
  • Failure to give reasons for and explain the effect of a sentence
  • Failure to follow any sentencing guidelines
  • Sentencing and ECHR, Article 7

Duty to give reasons for and explain the effect of a sentence

This Practice Note reflects the procedural code for sentencing offenders in England and Wales (Sentencing Code) that applies from 1 December 2020, as set out in Parts 2–13 of the Sentencing Act 2020 (SA 2020). For those considering whether the Sentencing Code applies to their case, see Practice Note: Sentencing Code.

Duty to follow sentencing guidelines

Every court when sentencing an offender is under a duty to follow any sentencing guidelines that are relevant to the offender's case, unless the court considers that it would not be in the interests of justice to do so. This is a strict obligation that did not exist before April 2010. In R v Malik, the Court of Appeal took the opportunity to emphasise that:

‘…these duties exist, not for the sake of it but because they serve the interests of justice. They help to promote certainty and consistency as between different judges. They also help all concerned including the public to understand why courts have reached the decisions that they have. This in turn helps to maintain public confidence in the administration of justice. Thirdly, they assist this Court to understand why and how a sentencing decision was reached.’

The Sentencing Council (SC) has published offence specific guidelines for courts sentencing various offences. These guidelines are available on the

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