On 2 September 2016, the Court of Appeal laid down new guidelines on sentencing discounts on a guilty plea in two appeal cases (HKSAR v Ngo Van Nam, CACC 418/2014 and HKSAR v Abdou Maikido Abdoulkarim, CACC 327/2015). Prior to these judgments, the practice was that a defendant would be given a one-third discount from the starting point for sentence, upon a guilty plea, if that plea was tendered up to and until the first day of trial (subject to the Court’s overriding discretion). The new practice means that the earlier the plea is given, the greater the discount that will be given, as follows:

Click here to view table.

Under the revised practise the following principles remain: (i) the court retains an overriding discretion in sentencing; and (ii) the court will not have regard to the strength of the prosecution’s case in determining the discount to be given.

This new practice will only apply to a defendant who in future reaches the stages in criminal proceedings for which the revised discounts are identified. For those defendants whose trial dates have already been fixed (as at 2 September 2016), the previous practise will apply.