R.A. Duff, Lindsay Farmer, S.E. Marshall, Massimo Renzo and Victor Tadros (eds), The Boundaries of the Criminal Law, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010, 267 pp, hb £50.00.

AuthorHenrique Carvalho
Published date01 November 2011
Date01 November 2011
problematic area of international humanitarian law and should be much referred
to by lawyers working in this field. It is published by OUP as part of their ‘Oxford
Monographs in International Law’ and the binding,citations and index are all of
the same high quality that we have come to expect from this excellent series.
Mike Sanderson*
R.A. Duff, Lindsay Farmer, S.E. Marshall, Massimo Renzo and Victor Tadros (eds), The
Boundaries of the Criminal Law, New York and Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 2010, 267 pp, hb £50.00.
The Boundaries of the Criminal Law presents a welcome contribution to a popular
but insufficiently developed topic.There have been a number of contributions on
the topic in recent years, but few have tackled it from such a broad perspective.
A gap has arisen in relation to how these debates fit together, and what kind of
general framework of criminal law they actually refer to.This book, the first of
four edited collections coming out of a research project dedicated to the issue,
directly addresses this gap.
The editors said the project started with the question of ‘what should be
criminalised’ (1) by the law. This deceivingly simple question can easily be
stretched to cover such complex themes as what it means to criminalise, how
criminalisation by legal statutes interacts with the actual prosecution and pre-
vention of crimes, and so on.A collection of essays is particularly useful in this
sense, as it enables the book to address this complex problem from a myriad of
perspectives instead of offering any unilateral model or framework. In short, a
complex question demands a complex approach, and that is just what this
collection aims to offer.
The introduction to the book is particularly illuminating for its general
perspective on the theme of criminalisation. It offers a summary not only of the
book but of the programme of the four-year research project focussed on the
topic. It starts with a broad reflection on what might constitute a theory of
criminalisation, setting the tone of the endeavour through a discussion of its
objectives,delimitations of its scope and complications that the group anticipates.
Among the many orientations offered in the introduction, it is interesting to
highlight that the project sees the criminal law as at root a political matter,
contingent on political theory,and thus affirming the importance the notion of
citizenship has for a normative understanding of the criminal law. In this sense,
the project is concerned with ‘what aims for the criminal law could reflect or be
consistent with a mutual recognition of fellow citizenship’(8); it is clear that the
aim is to establish not what the boundaries of the criminal law are, but what these
boundaries should be, according to the conditions of a contemporary liberal polity.
So, even though‘[a] nor mative theory of criminal law is a normative theory not
of some abstract entity, but of a political institution’ (9) – that is,it must have the
*School of Law, University of Exeter.
© 2011 TheAuthors. The Modern Law Review © 2011The Modern Law Review Limited.
986 (2011) 74(6) MLR 974–989

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