Simplification of the Criminal Law

In the 10th Programme, the Commission embarked on a programme of simplification of the criminal law, criminal evidence and procedure.

Simplification involves:

  • giving the law a clearer structure;
  • using more modern terminology;
  • making the law in a given area more consistent with other closely allied areas of law;
  • making the law readily comprehensible to non lawyers by ensuring that it embodies sound and sensible concepts of fairness.

The Commission continues to support the objective of codifying the law, and will continue to codify where it can, but considers that it needs to redefine its approach to make codification more achievable. This project is an important component of that redefinition.  We believe that simplification of the criminal law is a necessary step in furtherance of its codification.  The aim of the project is to identify those areas of the criminal law where the law could be simplified and improved by the abolition, repeal, replacement or modification of offences that are unused in practice, or problematic in principle, for example because the definition is vague or anomalous.

So far, we have examined the following areas of law with the aim of simplifying them:

Project details

Area of law

Criminal law


Professor David Ormerod QC