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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); Cambridge (November 2020).

The next Assize Seminar will be held on Friday 14th May 2021 on Zoom, hosted by the University of Oxford. We have a very exciting panel of speakers and commentators, and the promise of some fascinating discussion of important issues in criminal law and criminal justice. As in the last Assize seminar (recordings available below), the event will be hosted online, on Zoom.

The presentations from the speakers will be available in advance, to be watched before the session on 14 May.

Details are below and places are limited to facilitate discussion; to apply for a place please complete the form.

15:00 Introduction

15:10 Discussion session 1

Speaker: Dr Mark Dsouza, Associate Professor, UCL
Title: "False beliefs and consent to sex"
Commentator: David Emanuel QC, Garden Court Chambers

15:55 Break

16:00 Discussion session 2

Speaker: Dr Gabrielle Watson, Shaw Foundation Fellow in Law, Lincoln College, Oxford
Title: "Ethical Perspectives on the Guilty Plea"
Commentator: HHJ Farrell QC, Honorary Recorder of Cambridge and Peterborough

16:45 Break

16:50 Discussion session 3

Speaker: Abenaa Owusu-Bempah, Assistant Professor of Law, LSE
Title: "The irrelevance of rap"
Commentators: (double bill)
Kirsty Brimelow QC, Doughty Street Chambers
Joel Smith, Furnival Chambers and Junior Treasury Counsel at the Central Criminal Court

17:35 Breakout sessions for those interested in further discussion

18:00 Close

Seventh Assize

The seventh Assize Seminar was hosted on Zoom by the University of Cambridge on 20th November 2020. The programme for the event is below, along with videos of the presentations, which were recorded and circulated in advance.


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 (