Beltrami & Company Criminal Law & Glasgow Solicitors Blog
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A ‘more open and just’ justice system
A legal loophole whereby life prisoners could become eligible for parole earlier than those serving sentences of a fixed length will be closed after the Scottish Parliament voted in favour of a new Bill designed to improve the justice system.
The Criminal Cases (Punishment and Review) (Scotland) Bill will resolve a technical anomaly which arose following the Appeal Court's judgement in the case of Petch and Foye v. HMA, which meant that prisoners given a discretionary life sentence or Order for Lifelong Restriction (OLR) can apply to become eligible for parole earlier than those serving sentences of a fixed length.
Under new legislation, the courts will regain the discretion to set a 'punishment part' of those sentences that it considers appropriate in all the circumstances of a particular case.
The Bill will also provide a framework for the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) to decide whether it is appropriate to disclose information concerning cases it has referred to the High Court for appeal against conviction which have subsequently been abandoned or have fallen. Although general in nature, the Bill will apply in the circumstances of the case of Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi, who was convicted in 2001 of the murder of 270 people in the Lockerbie bombing.
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