Letter: Legal haste makes waste

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The Independent Online
YOUR leader 'The palace of ineptitude' (7 November) makes a perfectly good point in criticising those who frame our laws, namely that, time and again, insufficient consideration is given to detail.

I have practised regularly in the criminal courts for more than 28 years. Under the Criminal Justice Act 1991 the courts, in determining the seriousness of an offence, were no longer to have regard to previous convictions. The law came into force in October 1992, prior to which judges and magistrates had undertaken a 12-month period of training to understand this new piece of legislation. Yet, by summer 1993, the Government had backtracked. The Criminal Justice Act 1993 was passed, and came into force in August 1993, turning this particular provision on its head. Once again previous convictions could be taken into account.

It is clear that, as regards the 1991 and 1993 Acts, there had been insufficient thought and consideration of the possible consequences, thus wasting a lot of time and money.

Anthony R Ostrin