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Removing the shackles

New sentencing guidelines mean that nothing is off limits for magistrates in health and safety cases, advises Peter James

31 March 2015

A significant shift has occurred in sentencing of health and safety offences and other summary and either way offences in England and Wales. In many cases, magistrates now have unlimited powers to fine organisations and individuals and can accept jurisdiction
for prosecutions that would previously have been sent to
the Crown Court.

On 11 March 2015 the justice secretary exercised powers conferred by section 85 of
the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishing Offenders Act (LASPO) removing many of the limitations imposed on magistrates’ sentencing powers. LASPO now applies to

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