A Guide to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994

Don't leave home without one – but which one of the several new commentaries on this complex, controversial and varied Act? By now, if not before, all criminal practitioners will be confronted by the need to have ready access to the actual text of the Act whether at court, the police station or advising elsewhere. So which handbag or folder-fitting crib book to choose?

James Morton's is physically suitable. The commentary preceding the text of the Act is shorter (at 64 pages) than some of his rivals. This relative brevity will be of help to those who want a readable overview of the Act, and its background.

The commentary is helpful by being written by a criminal practitioner. But it does not provide stimulus to identifying tactics, ambiguities or points for possible testing on appeal. Few cases are cited, though the Act is sufficiently novel that to an extent this must be so. An exception is that the commentary usefully deals with parliamentary material, and practitioners may find this a ready source for identifying reports for Pepper v Hart submissions as to the meaning of the Act.

Some may view the observations of the author in the commentary as cynical. The text of the Act is what many of us need to have, and any commentary is merely the icing, whether bitter or sweet, thick or thin.

Rock Tansey QC is head of chambers at 3 Gray's Inn Square.

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