Scottish Law Commission on double jeopardy
The Scottish Law Commission published a Discussion Paper on Double Jeopardy on 21 January 2009.
The Justice Secretary asked the Commission to look at the double jeopardy rule after the collapse of the World’s End murders trial in November 2007 (see here).
The rule against double jeopardy prevents a person from being tried twice for the same crime. As a consequence, it is not possible to retry a person who has been acquitted of a crime, even if new evidence emerges in relation to the case or if it appears that the original trial was "tainted" in some way, such as by intimidation or bribery of jurors or witnesses.
The Commission invites comment on whether it is desirable for any exceptions to the rule against double jeopardy to be introduced and, if so, how these should operate.
Patrick Layden, QC, the lead Commissioner on the project, said:
"The rule that prevents a person from being tried twice for the same offence has been recognised in Scotland and across the world as a fundamental protection for the citizen against the state; but we should look at it carefully to see whether modern conditions justify exceptions to it."
As well as considering possible exceptions to the rule against double jeopardy, the Discussion Paper seeks comment upon a proposal to restate the rule against double jeopardy in statute.
Comments on the Discussion Paper are requested by 17 April 2009.