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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.

The first Assize seminar was held in Oxford in May 2017, and have since been held again at University College London (November 2017); Cambridge (April 2018); Oxford (November 2018); The Criminal Cases Review Commission, Birmingham (May 2019); UCL (November 2019).

The next Assize Seminar will be held remotely, via Zoom, on Friday 20th November at 3pm. The seminar will run for two hours and we hope to hold a 30-minute social/networking session at the end of the seminar, for those who wish to stay.

For those familiar with the format, you will know that our usual practice is to host three speakers across three hour long sessions. We are keen to avoid Zoom burn out so we have made some changes to the delivery of the seminar this year. Speakers will record their presentations, which will be circulated to attendees one week in advance of the seminar. On the day of the seminar, each session will begin with a short presentation by the commentator on the paper, followed by Q&A. We would kindly ask all participants to find time to watch the videos before the session.

Further information regarding speakers, commentators and logistical/technical information will be provided in due course. For now, we simply ask you to save the date and join us, if you can, on 20 November 2020.

Seventh Assize

The next Assize Seminar will be hosted on Zoom by the University Cambridge with the support of UCL Laws on 20 November 2020 at 3-5.00pm.

For those familiar with the format, you will know that our usual practice is to host three speakers across three-hour long sessions. We are keen to avoid zoom burnout so, for this remote session, the speakers have recorded their presentations which can be viewed below. During the seminar, each session will begin with a short presentation by the commentator, followed by the Q&A.

We would kindly ask all participants to watch the videos of the speaker’s presentations before the session.

As the Assize Seminar is a participatory discussion forum, we will facilitate interactive discussion and engagement by hosting the Seminar in the form of a Zoom 'Meeting', rather than a 'Webinar'. Places will be limited and allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please sign up to attend the Seminar ( A Zoom invitation will be circulated to registered attendees nearer the time.


15:00 – 15:05 Introduction

15:05 – 15:40 Discussion Session 1:

Speaker: Dr Antje du Bois Pedain, Reader in Criminal Law and Philosophy, Faculty of Law and Director of the Centre for Penal Theory and Penal Ethics, Institute of Criminology, The University of Cambridge

‘The Breaches Regime for Non-custodial Sanctions: A Principled Critique of the Current Legislation and Related Sentencing Council Guidance’. (Handout)

Commentator: Dr Jake Phillips, Reader in Criminology, Sheffield Hallam University

15:45 – 16:20 Discussion Session 2:

Speaker: Ailsa McKeon, Barrister at 6KBW

‘Beyond the Pale? The Expanding Territorial Reach of Criminal Investigations’.

Commentator: His Honour Judge Michael Hopmeier, Circuit Judge, Southwark Crown Court

16:25 – 17:00 Discussion Session 3:

Speaker: Nathan Rasiah, Barrister at 23 ES and Supervisor in Criminal Procedure and Evidence and Criminal Law, The University of Cambridge

‘Causation in Homicide - Principle and Practice in Difficult Cases'. (Full paper | Handout)

Commentator: Professor Rebecca Williams, Professor of Public Law and Criminal Law, University of Oxford

Third Assize

The third Assize seminar took place in Cambridge on 27 April 2018, with support from the Faculty of Law's Impact Fund. The programme for the event is provided below, together with audio recordings of most of the presentations.


16.00-16.05: Introduction

16.05-16.50: Session 1

Speaker: Professor Nicola Padfield QC (Hon), University of Cambridge, "What is a Sentence?" 

Commentator: Professor Andrew Ashworth QC (Hon), University of Oxford

16.50-17.35: Session 2

Speaker: Professor Ian Dennis, University College London, "Prosecution Disclosure: Are the problems insoluble?"

A copy of Professor Dennis's paper 'Prosecution Disclosure: are the problems insoluble?' (240k PDF) is available for download. Please note that this paper is a work in progress and not to be cited without the permission of the author.

Commentator: Alex Chalk MP

17.35-18.00: Tea and Coffee

18.00-18.45: Session 3

Speaker: Francis FitzGibbon QC, Doughty Street Chambers, "Difficulties in Getting Into the Court of Appeal Following a Change in Law"

Commentator: The Hon. Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb 

18.45-20.00: Wine reception, The Atrium, Faculty of Law, David Williams Building


Rachel Clement Tolley (