This week, the Scottish Sentencing Council introduced a guideline judgments section on its website in which users can find all the Guideline Judgments issued in criminal cases in Scotland.

A Guideline Judgment can be issued by our higher appeal courts in Scotland under the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995. It is intended to provide guidance to judges when sentencing in similar types of cases. Scotland does not as yet have wider sentencing guidelines but the Council will issue a draft for consultation in the coming months.

Meantime, the Council reminds us that guidelines from the English and Welsh Sentencing Council are not applicable in Scotland but that Scottish judges may find them of assistance in certain cases depending on the circumstances and the relevant Scottish case law. This is of particular interest in health and safety cases where England and Wales have recently seen the introduction of new sentencing guidelines that have substantially increased the level of potential fines.

So far as health and safety sentencing guidance in Scotland is concerned, the Scottish Sentencing Council has published two well-known cases on the website in which the High Court provided guidance on sentencing. There will continue to be subtle differences in approach north of the border and at present, a broader view is taken compared to the relatively complex methodology required by the latest English and Welsh guidelines.