David Ormerod and Karl Laird

£42.99, Oxford University Press


This book should feature in every criminal lawyer and law student’s library. Professor Ormerod and Karl Laird have produced a gold-standard work that provides a comprehensive and clear analysis of the essential principles of, and critical cases formulating, the criminal law.

As well as providing an essential companion for experienced lawyers looking to sharpen and update their knowledge of the criminal law, it is also a book for any student embarking on or carrying out their legal studies. Its greatest strength is that it focuses on the primary material, encouraging the reader to engage critically with extracts from key judgments and academic literature. It helpfully juxtaposes core content with focused  explanations and simple flowcharts of key principles.

The book provides the reader of any level with useful contextual content. The commentary sections are particularly useful in ensuring the confident application of the principles and authorities referred to within. The references to relevant legal reform are an additional bonus. The authors also raise pertinent questions about the topics covered. Some are phrased as problem questions; others prompt the reader to focus on the important aspects of the primary material. On some points, it may even allow the user to condense their legal research time from hours spent trawling other research tools to simply finding the relevant chapter in this book.

This is a polished text that is easy to navigate and engaging. A good example of this is the law on consent in the sexual offences chapter. This challenging topic is broken down into subtopics to facilitate efficient and effective learning. The statutory framework is illustrated using an easy-to-follow flowchart with questions and yes-or-no answers.

The Theft and Fraud chapters offer an all-you-need-to-know journey through the development of these complex areas of criminal law.

Liabilities of Corporations is a full chapter dedicated to providing a multidimensional analysis of the identification doctrine, failure to prevent offences and corporate manslaughter.

The book also takes account of the most significant changes in criminal law and case law. It is particularly strong on the issue of dishonesty. Not only does it include extracts from the Supreme Court’s judgment in Ivey in its exposition, but it also features detailed commentary and analysis of the decision and the more recent case of Barton.

For those with more time, or simply an interest in learning more about a topic, each chapter ends with a section on further reading. The authors have selected a mixture of recent and essential books that provide greater detail and inform the debates on criminal law.

This book is a great addition to any criminal student or lawyer’s arsenal – a must-have.

Michael Goodwin QC is a criminal barrister practising from Red Lion Chambers, specialising in serious crime, business crime and fraud