Criminal Law

Summing up for juries

Summing up for juries (directing them on the law and summarising the evidence) is one of the most important functions that circuit judges and recorders perform in any criminal trial. You can read my views about how judges can make jurors' tasks easier by giving written directions with sign-posts to verdict in my Criminal Law Review article Summing Up - a Judge's Perspective.

Legal definitions of offences
Summing-up should never be a simple cut and paste job. We all know that legal directions have to be carefully tailored to fit the evidence and needs of each trial. On the other hand, there is no point in reinventing the wheel each time we sum up to a jury. The Judicial College Crown Court Compendium contains invaluable advice aobut summing-up. Many judges keep copies of directions used in earlier cases, in ring binders, card indexes or electronically. The links on this page are to legal definitions of offences which I have used in the past. They are bare bones directions which will often need fleshing out. I hope that they are useful but we all make mistakes and it would be surprising if someone, somewhere did not spot an error or errors somewhere among these directions. So, caveat judex. If you do spot something wrong, please let me know.