The Assize Seminars provide a space for cutting edge academic work to play a practical role in understanding and developing the law. They are a chance to challenge, debate and refine criminal justice, providing a bridge from academia to criminal legal practice. Just like the Assize of old, the seminars are peripatetic, in this case rotating over the next 18 months between three leading academic institutions: Oxford, Cambridge and University College London, all with the support of the Criminal Bar Association. Each institution normally offers a speaker or commentator at each event, with the other half of the slots filled by academics, judges, practitioners, law reformers and others. Events attendance and speaker slots are open to all.

After a very successful first round of events in Oxford (May 2017), UCL (November 2017) and Cambridge (April 2018), the Assize seminars has begun a second round beginning in Autumn 2018. The event in Cambridge in May 2020 was postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. However, we decided to hold it remotely, via Zoom, on Friday 20th November, from 3pm. The papers were recorded in advance, and comments and discussion carried out in person on the day. For more details, please see: 

The next event is currently scheduled for 14 May 2021, thought the format will be decided in light of the Covid 19 pandemic and any feedback that this date is not possible for attendees. Suggestions of topics, and offers of papers are welcome, please contact

The event before that was at UCL, on Saturday 16 November 2019. Full details, including videos of the presentations and the materials available, are here:


The preceding event was on 17 May 2019 at the Criminal Cases Review Commission, in Birmingham, details are below. 

2:00 PM: Welcome by Dr Matt Dyson and CCRC

2:05 PM: CCRC Case study

3.00 PM Break

3:30 PM: Dr Lucy Welsh, University of Sussex, "Lawyers, the Criminal Cases Review Commission and Legal Aid cuts" with a comment by Dr Hannah Quirk, King's College London. The handout is available here

4:30 PM: Break

5:00 PM: Harpreet Sandhu, Number 5 Chambers Birmingham, "Drugs in court: the substance and procedure of the county lines cases?" with a comment by HHJ Mary Stacey. The handout is available here.

6:00 PM: Break

6:30 PM: Dr Adrian Hunt, University of Birmingham, "Counter-Terrorism Preparatory Offences: Special Cases or the New Normal?" with a comment by Joel Bennathan QC, Doughty Street Chambers. The handout is available here.

7:30 PM: Drinks Reception


The first event in the series was in Oxford in November 2018, and had the following line-up:

15.10 Welcome, Dr Matt Dyson, University of Oxford

15.15 Dr Hannah Quirk, Reader in Criminal Law, King's College, London, “Limitations to Loss of Self Control”. [Handout]

With a comment by Dr Roxana Willis, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford, and Junior Research Fellow, University College, Oxford (kindly standing in for Prof Jonathan Herring, sadly absent through illness).

16.15 Break

16.45 Rudi Fortson QC, 25 Bedford Row and Visiting Professor, Queen Mary, University of London, “Making Dishonesty Fit the Crime”. [Handout] The full paper is available from SSRN [Paper].

With a comment by Katie Wheatley, of Bindmans LLP

17.45 Break

18.15 Sir Tony Bottoms, Emeritus Wolfson Professor of Criminology at the University of Cambridge “The Role of Equity Factors in Sentencing”. [Handout]

With a comment by Dame Maura McGowan, Judge of the High Court and a Presiding Judge of the South Eastern Circuit.

19.15-20.00pm Drinks


The launch event was held in Oxford on 12 May 2017 in Magdalen College Auditorium, with 45 academics, barristers, solicitors, prosecutors and judges attending. 

1.      Dr Rebecca Williams, University of Oxford: “Why conditional intent should count as intent”

Comment by Mr Julian Knowles QC, Matrix Chambers.

2.      Prof. John Spencer, University of Cambridge: “Is our criminal appeal system fit for purpose?”

       Comment by Prof. David Ormerod QC (Hon), Professor of Criminal Justice at UCL; Law Commissioner for England and Wales

3.      Mr Paul Jarvis, 6KBW College Hill: “Are freedom, capacity and agreement always essential components of consent?"

       Comment by HH Peter Rook QC, Judge, Central Criminal Court; Judicial Fellow of the UCL Judicial Institute.


The second Assize Seminar was hosted by UCL on the 8th of November 2017. Details of the programme, including the handouts and videos from the event are available here.

1.      Prof. Jeremy Horder, LSE: “Justifying the criminalisation of misconduct in public office: how far should we go?”

Comment by Prof. Peter Alldridge, Queen Mary University of London. 

Comment by Prof. David Ormerod QC (Hon), Professor of Criminal Justice at UCL; Law Commissioner for England and Wales

2.      Prof. Julian Roberts, University of Oxford: “The evolution of sentencing law and practice as a result of the emerging sentencing guidelines” Comment by HH Judge Martin Picton, Circuit Judge and Judicial Member of the Criminal Procedure Rules Committee Comment by Prof. Loraine Gelsthorpe, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge. 


The third Assize Seminar took  place in Cambridge in on 27 April 2018: see here.

1.      Prof. Nicola Padfield, University of Cambridge: “What is a sentence?”

Comment by Prof. Andrew Ashworth, University of Oxford

2.      Prof. Ian Dennis, UCL: “Disclosure”

       Comment by Alex Chalk MP

3.      Mr Francis FitzGibbon, Doughty Street Chambers: “Conviction Appeals to the CACD – Barriers & Obstacles – ‘Substantial Injustice’"

       Comment by HH Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb, Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice of England and Wales