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Legal loophole closed

A legal loophole whereby life prisoners could become eligible for parole earlier than those serving sentences of a fixed length has been closed now that a new Act designed to improve the justice system has come into force.

The Criminal Cases (Punishment and Review) (Scotland) Act resolves 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) could apply to become eligible for parole earlier than those serving sentences of a fixed length.

From 24th September, the courts have regained the discretion to set a ‘punishment part’ of non-mandatory life sentences that it considers appropriate in all the circumstances of a particular case to ensure appropriate punishment of the offender.

The changes to the law will not be retrospective and therefore will not impact on cases and appeals currently being heard.