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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); and on Zoom (May 2021).

Next Assize Seminar: 13 May 2022

The next Assize Seminar will be held in-person on the 13th May 2022. The event will be held in G24 of the David Williams Building, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge.

Please note that spaces are limited and will be allocated on a first, come-first served basis.

For the sign-up, data protection rules are pushing us away from Eventbrite and to Microsoft Forms. The only difference for you is that after you fill in the simple form, I will write to you to confirm whether you have been allocated a place or are on the reserve list. Please do let us know immediately if circumstances change and you are unable to attend, so we can release your place.

We will accommodate a limited number attending virtually, for those currently abroad, or unable to attend particularly due to health or caring responsibilities.

Please write to Rachel Tolley directly ( if you wish to join remotely (there is no need to explain why). We will be maintaining a separate attendance limit and waiting list for remote participation. We feel that collegiality and engagement is characteristic of the Assize seminars and retaining this distinctive atmosphere in hybrid form is a new challenge for us. We appreciate your understanding and flexibility as we experiment with how best to meet this challenge.

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15.00: Welcome

15.05 - 16.05: ‘Civil recovery as a pragmatic response to serious crime’
Speakers: Dr Colin King (IALS) and Dr Jen Hendry (Leeds)
Commentator: Professor Matt Dyson (Oxford)

16.15 - 17.15: ‘Conceptual Drift in Abuse of Process and How to Combat It’
Speaker: Dr Jonathan Rogers (Cambridge)
Commentator: HHJ Jonathan Cooper, Deputy Resident Judge for Cambridgeshire

17.30 - 18.30: ‘The Fraud Pandemic: New Challenges for Criminal Law’
Speaker: Dr Jennifer Collins (Bristol)
Commentator: TBC

18.30: Drinks


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 (