Book Review: Landmark Cases in Criminal Law

Date01 March 2018
AuthorHyo Won Kang
Published date01 March 2018
Subject MatterBook Reviews
of reminding the public about the real challenges to gender discrimination in the criminal justice
system. It thus informs and better equips the next generation of practitioners, currently students, or
all other policymakers who read it. In criminal justice, as the authors of the book remark, women
have been ‘shoehorned’ into a system designed by men for men. Through the understanding and
constantly following the interactions between masculinities and femininities within the system,
data and solutions for reform and improvement might evolve so as to continue to work towards
fostering a human rights culture for the interest of offenders and involved practitioners alike.
Therefore, I dare say that this book is not only a must-read, but also a must-keep.
Landmark Cases in Criminal Law, P. Handler, H. Mares, and I. Williams (eds.) (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2017),
ISBN 9781849466899, 365 pp., £80.00
Reviewed by: Hyo Won Kang, PhD in Law from Queen’s University Belfast, UK
DOI: 10.1177/2032284418759995
In most countries that adopt a so-called civil law system, also known as a continental legal system,
dominant in Continental Europe, Latin America, Japan, South Korea and parts of Africa as well as
the Middle East, the judiciary interprets and applies only codified laws enacted by the legislature.
By contrast, law in the common law tradition evolves through judicial decision-making that seeks
to provide each case with an appropriate outcome. Given that court decisions are considered the
main sources of law in common law countries, the importance of research on case law comprised a
body of non-statutory rules produced by judicial decisions cannot be overemphasized in common
law jurisdictions. The 15 cases that make up this volume are or were once prime authorities on the
legal concepts, general principles and key issues including but not limited to insanity, intention,
duress, causation and consent. They retain a certain timelessness that has shaped British criminal
law and procedure whatever the current validity of each case.
Following an introductory chapter by the volume’s editors, each case addressing key concepts
in criminal law is examined and discussed individually in each chapter from its historical context.
All of these 15 leading cases were carefully selected by editors and contributors as landmark court
decisions due to the fact that they have changed the landscape of criminal law for better or for
worse. Cases such as R v. Flattery [1877] in Chapter 8 and R v. Hancock and Shankland [1986] in
Chapter 14 form an essential part of the process of developing the current law of intention, while
older cases such as the Carrier’s Case [1473] in Chapter 2 dealing with the law of larceny and Rv.
Saunders and Archer [1573] in Chapter 3 are starting points for the development of common law
crime. The contributors concentrate on placing these important cases into historical and political
context, seeking to understand why they are considered milestones in the development of criminal
law. For example, in Chapter 12, Farmer reassesses DPP v. Morgan [1975], focusing more on the
context of recent developments in sexual offences and rape law based on the concept of sexual
autonomy than on the then-existing subjective test and logic of how absence of consent should be
interpreted or whether mistaken belief in consent should be recognized as a defence to rape or part
of the mental element required for the crime. The role of consent in criminal law is also explored in
Chapter 16 through R v. Brown [1993], although this case is no longer valid. Ot her chapters
examine the judiciary’s role in creating the law and in particular, the judges’ attitude towards
164 New Journal of European Criminal Law 9(1)

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