Blackstone’s Criminal Practice will remain the standard text in criminal courts, the judiciary has confirmed, ending speculation that an earlier decision to replace the venerable Archbold would be reversed.
In July this year HM Courts and Tribunals Judiciary said the Judicial Executive Board had decided that Blackstone’s Criminal Practice should replace Archbold Criminal Pleading, Evidence and Practice as the standard text in criminal courts.
Blackstone’s publisher Oxford University Press confirmed the news today.
In a notice sent out this week, Senior Presiding Judge Adrian Fulford said the JEB was aware that ‘some practitioners’ were unhappy with the decision and had delayed purchasing Blackstone’s because of ‘unfounded speculation that our position will be reversed’.
‘I am writing to put an end to this speculation and confirm that Blackstone’s Criminal Practice will be the standard text in all criminal courts,’ he added.
Greg Foxsmith, president of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association, said traditionalist advocates used to using Archbold were ‘having a meltdown’ about the change.
‘It will be interesting to see whether in a year’s time Blackstone’s have won over the Archbold fans,’ he added.
Archbold’s text has been in publication since 1822 and was first written by John Frederick Archbold.
Blackstone’s was first published in 1991 by Blackstone Press, which is now a subsidiary of OUP.
Andy Redman, editorial director for law at OUP, said it the publisher was delighted to see Blackstone’s had been formally recognised by the judiciary.
A judiciary spokesperson said that the question of which publication will be available in court in future 'will be kept under review and any changes will be made known to practitioners in good time before the publication of any new editions'.
The statement added: 'The judiciary are keen to liaise with publishers to ensure that their publications meet our requirements, therefore some judges will be contributing to the forthcoming review of Archbold prior to the publication of the 2018 edition next year.'
Tania Quan, head of publishing at the legal UK&I business or Thomson Reuters, which includes Archbold publisher Sweet & Maxwell, said it was ‘surprised by the announcement’ and would have welcomed the opportunity to provide input ahead of the decision.
‘We note the decision is not permanent and it is to be kept under review. Pending that review, all courts will have access to Archbold and many judges will have the print edition available throughout 2017. Our focus now is on supporting our customers and we are fully committed to the 2017 edition of Archbold, which will publish on 17 October,’ she said.
The publisher also offers an online system of commentary and primary law thorugh online legal research company Westlaw UK
The publishers’ current listed prices for the print volumes are £320 for Blackstone’s and £475 for Archbold, though cheaper electronic versions as well as pre-publication offers are available.