Law Reform Commission seeks views on suspended sentences

Law Reform Commission seeks views on suspended sentences

The Law Reform Commission is seeking views on an issues paper on suspended sentences as part of its fourth programme of law reform.

It seeks views on issues concerning both the principles that apply to imposing suspended sentences and the procedures that apply to them.

The Commission is seeking views as to whether the general sentencing principles discussed in the paper are being applied appropriately in the case of suspended sentences, and whether this area would benefit from the development of further sentencing guidance.

Information published by the Courts Service, and other sentencing data discussed in the paper, suggests a percentage decrease in the use of suspended sentences in recent years, but it is not clear the precise reasons for this. The Commission is therefore seeking the views of interested parties on this matter.

The paper also surveyed the use of suspended sentences concerning two corporate offences, namely convictions under competition law and under safety and health law. The Commission’s research indicates that all sentences of imprisonment in those cases have been suspended and that no person has been imprisoned to date. Again, the Commission is seeking the views of interested parties on this.

On the question of the procedures for imposing the suspended sentence, the paper notes a number of important changes enacted in the Suspended Sentences Act 2017 in response to the High Court decision in 2016 that the activation process for suspended sentences was unconstitutional. The paper seeks views as to whether further reforms are required in relation to the procedures concerning suspended sentences, including the activation process.

The full text of the issues paper can be found here.

Details of the various options to submit your response - whether verbally, in-document, by email (direct to: or by post - can be found here.

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