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Ensuring the punishment fits the crime

Fadley Faisal

The task of sentencing an offender justly is a complex exercise and it is therefore important that consistency, coherence and clarity be maintained in our sentencing practices. Sentencing guidelines and benchmarks can assist judges in the discharge of their functions and provide a degree of predictability and consistency.

Chief Justice of the Brunei Darussalam Supreme Court Dato Seri Paduka Steven Chong said this in his welcoming speech during a virtual seminar on March 14, jointly organised by the Brunei Darussalam Supreme Court, British High Commission in Brunei Darussalam and the Slynn Foundation.

Dato Seri Paduka Steven Chong highlighted the important role the judiciary plays in “always looking to improve and enhance sentencing practices, to better ensure that the punishment imposed fits the offence and the offender.”

This encourages judges and judicial officers to continue efforts in updating and expanding the ‘Bench Book’, which contains guideline cases on a range of offences, to assist judges and magistrates in discharging their sentencing functions.

The Chief Justice highlighted the Supreme Court’s continued engagement with the British High Commission and the Slynn Foundation, and how it is “testament to our commitment to the rule of law, demonstrates the trust and confidence in the integrity of our institution and signals the strength of our relations.”

He expressed appreciation to both the British High Commission and the Slynn Foundation for their continued support of the judiciary, and hopes to further strengthen Brunei Darussalam’s long-standing relationship with the United Kingdom (UK).

Chief Justice of the Brunei Darussalam Supreme Court Dato Seri Paduka Steven Chong joins others in the virtual seminar. PHOTO: SUPREME COURT OF BRUNEI DARUSSALAM

Delivering the seminar, Chairman of the Sentencing Council for England and Wales Lord Justice Holroyde looked at the establishment of the Council in 2010 and provided an overview of its work, statutory obligations, structure and operations. Lord Justice Holroyde described how judicial independence in criminal sentencing is maintained despite the creation of guidelines which courts must follow, unless the interests of justice dictate otherwise.

He also emphasised the benefits of consistency and transparency.

Deputy British High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam Catherine Pochkanavala-Cleeve, Slynn Foundation Trustee Sir Stephen Irwin, justices, judges and judicial officers of the Brunei Darussalam Supreme Court also participated.

Pochkhanavala-Cleeve said, “The UK and Brunei Darussalam enjoy an incredibly close and supportive relationship. The UK has a proud tradition of championing international rule of law and rules based international system and our judicial cooperation is an important area of partnership for us. We’re delighted to be able to work closely with our friends here in Brunei Darussalam again on these lecture series delivered by the UK Slynn Foundation.”

Sir Stephen Irwin expressed gratitude to Lord Justice Holroyde for the “excellent” presentation, and to all those who had helped to organise the event.

He emphasised the continued commitment of the Slynn Foundation to mutual learning and understanding between the judges of England and Wales and their colleagues in Brunei Darussalam.

The UK Slynn Foundation is a UK based charity working with senior judges and justice institutions around the world to enhance the rule of law, and to improve professional understanding of human rights, mediation and legal practice.

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