Examination of Witnesses

Part of Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:11 am on 23rd July 2019.

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Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Conservative, Cheltenham 10:11 am, 23rd July 2019

Thank you very much. I declare an interest: I am pretty sure I have prosecuted offences that were defended at the bar by Bindmans.Q

Mr Schwarz, can I ask briefly about your helpful point on an apparent inconsistency between domestic and wild animals and explore a little bit about how much that matters? I am conscious that, if a robbery takes place and there are two robbers, one of whom is 18 years and one day old at the time of the offence and the other is 17 years and 360 days, they will be sentenced under different regimes, even though, as far as they are concerned, they are two young men of effectively identical age. Equally, if there is a traffic offence and a prosecutor decides the driving fell far below the standard of a reasonably careful and competent driver, they get charged with dangerous driving. Equally, if another prosecutor says, “Well, I don’t think it quite crosses ‘far below’, but it was below the expected standard, so I’m going to charge it as careless driving,” that offending would be sentenced under different regimes. Have the courts not shown themselves to be well able to deal with such discrepancies without any real manifest injustice to anyone?