Criminal Law and Philosophy

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 83–106 | Cite as

Procedural Proportionality: The Remedy for an Uncertain Jurisprudence of Minor Offence Justice

  • Dat T. Bui
Original Paper


With a focus on the Common Law jurisdiction of England and Wales and the Civil Law jurisdiction of Vietnam, this article provides an analytical framework to address the uncertain jurisprudence of minor offence processes. The article’s approach is to seek an account of crime and criminal process that is most suitable for practice and most compatible with the broad notion of ‘criminal charge’ under international human rights instruments. It is argued that minor offences should be considered forms of less serious crimes that are subject to short periods of imprisonment or non-custodial punishments and dealt with by summary procedures. The fragmentation of minor offences demands an approach to procedural pragmatism and procedural proportionality; that is, the procedure for each type of offence should be proportionate to the severity of punishment and fair as a whole.


Proportionality Fair trial rights Summary justice Minor offences Misdemeanours 



This article is part of a doctoral thesis that I undertook at Macquarie University. I would like to express my thanks to Carlos L. Bernal-Pulido and Niloufer Selvadurai for their guidance and comments. I am also very grateful to Rodrigo Camarena González, anonymous reviewers, and editors for their comments on numerous drafts of this article.


Legislation and Regulations

  1. Act on Handling of Administrative Offences 2012 Google Scholar
  2. Crime and Disorder Act 1998 Google Scholar
  3. Criminal Code 1999 Google Scholar
  4. Criminal Procedure Rules (England and Wales) 2014 Google Scholar
  5. Criminal Proceedings Code 2003 Google Scholar
  6. Decree 111/2013/ND-CP on the Application of the Administrative Handling MeasureEducation in Commune, Ward or Township 2013 Google Scholar
  7. Environmental Civil Sanctions (England) Order 2010 Google Scholar
  8. Interpretation Act 1978 Google Scholar
  9. Trade Descriptions Act 1968 Google Scholar


  1. A. Menarini Diagnostics S.R.L. v Italy (2011) (ECtHR)Google Scholar
  2. Engel v Netherlands (1976) 1 EHRR 647Google Scholar
  3. International Transport Roth GmbH & Ors v Secretary of State For the Home Department (2002) EWCA Civ 158Google Scholar
  4. O’Halloran and Francis v United Kingdom (G.C.) (2008) 46 EHRR 397Google Scholar
  5. Öztürk v Germany (1984) 6 EHRR 409Google Scholar
  6. Pearks, Gunston & Tee Ltd. v Ward (1902) 2 KB 1Google Scholar
  7. R. (on the application of McCann) v Manchester Crown Court; Clingham v Kensington and Chelsea Royal London Borough Council R (McCann & others) v Crown Court at Manchester and another (2002) UKHL 39Google Scholar
  8. Saunders v United Kingdom (1997) 23 EHRR 313Google Scholar
  9. Teixeira de Castro v Portugal (1999) 28 EHRR 101Google Scholar

Books, Journal Articles, Reports, Webpages, Theses and other Sources

  1. Ashworth, Andrew, ‘Is the Criminal Law a Lost Cause?’ (2000) 116(2) Law Quarterly Review 225Google Scholar
  2. Ashworth, Andrew, ‘Social Control and “Anti-social Behaviour”: The Subversion of Human Rights?’ (2004) 120(2) Law Quarterly Review 263Google Scholar
  3. Ashworth, Andrew, ‘Conceptions of Overcriminalization’ (2008) 5(2) Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law 407Google Scholar
  4. Ashworth, Andrew and Lucia Zedner, ‘Defending the Criminal Law: Reflections on the Changing Character of Crime, Procedure and Sanctions’ (2008) 2(1) Criminal Law and Philosophy 21Google Scholar
  5. Ashworth, Andrew and Lucia Zedner, Preventative Orders: A Problem of Undercriminalization? (Oxford University Press, 2010)Google Scholar
  6. Bernatt, Maciej, ‘Administrative Sanctions: Between Efficiency and Procedural Fairness’ (2016) 9(1) Review of European Administrative Law 5Google Scholar
  7. Biber, Eric and J.B. Ruhl, ‘The Permit Power Revisited: The Theory and Practice of Regulatory Permits in the Administrative State’ (2014) 64(2) Duke Law Journal 133Google Scholar
  8. Biddulph, Sarah, Legal Reform and Administrative Detention Powers in China (Cambridge University Press, 2007)Google Scholar
  9. Blackstone, William, Commentaries on the Laws of England (West Publishing Co., 1897)Google Scholar
  10. Braithwaite, John and Philip Pettit, Not Just Deserts: A Republican Theory of Criminal Justice (Oxford University Press, 1993)Google Scholar
  11. Brown, Darryl K., ‘Public Welfare Offenses’ in Markus D. Dubber and Tatjana Hörnle (eds), Oxford Handbook of Criminal Law (Oxford University Press, 2014)Google Scholar
  12. Brown, Kevin J., ‘Replacing the ASBO with the Injunction to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance: A Plea for Legislative Scrutiny and Amendment’ (2013) 8 Criminal Law Review 623Google Scholar
  13. Bui, Dat T., ‘How Many Tiers of Criminal Justice in England and Wales? An Approach to the Limitation on Fair Trial Rights’ (2015) 41(3) Commonwealth Law Bulletin 439Google Scholar
  14. Bui, Dat T., ‘The Expansion and Fragmentation of Minor Offences Justice: A Convergence between the Common Law and the Civil Law’ (2016) 19(3) New Criminal Law Review 382Google Scholar
  15. Bui, Dat T., ‘Assessing the Overall Unfairness of Limitations on Fair Trial Rights in Summary Criminal Processes: A Remedy for Due-Process-Evading Justice (unpublished paper)’ (2017)Google Scholar
  16. Canada, Law Commission of (ed), What Is a Crime? Defining Criminal Conduct in Contemporary Society (University of British Columbia Press, 2004)Google Scholar
  17. Cartwright, Peter, Consumer Protection and the Criminal Law: Law, Theory, and Policy in the UK (Cambridge University Press, 2004)Google Scholar
  18. Chalmers, James and Fiona Leverick, ‘Tracking the Creation of Criminal Offences’ (2013) (7) Criminal Law Review 543Google Scholar
  19. Cornford, Andrew, ‘Criminalising Anti-Social Behaviour’ (2012) 6(1) Criminal Law and Philosophy 1Google Scholar
  20. Dagger, Richard, ‘Republicanism and Crime’ in Samantha Besson and Jose Luis Marti (eds), Legal Republicanism: National and International Perspectives (Oxford University Press, 2009)Google Scholar
  21. Dannecker, Gerhard, ‘Country Analysis – Germany’ in Oswald Jansen (ed), Administrative Sanctions in the European Union (Intersentia, 2013)Google Scholar
  22. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Civil Sanctions for Environmental Offences (2010)Google Scholar
  23. Dimock, Susan, ‘Criminalizing Dangerousness: How to Preventively Detain Dangerous Offenders’ (2015) 9(3) Criminal Law and Philosophy 537Google Scholar
  24. Dripps, Donald A., ‘The Substance-Procedure Relationship in Criminal Law’ in R.A. Duff and Stuart P. Green (eds), Philosophical Foundations of Criminal Law (Oxford University Press, 2011)Google Scholar
  25. Duff, R.A., Answering for Crime: Responsibility and Liability in the Criminal Law (Hart Publishing, 2007)Google Scholar
  26. Duff, R.A., ‘Towards a Theory of Criminal Law?’ (2010a) 84(1) Aristotelian Society 1Google Scholar
  27. Duff, R.A. et al (eds), The Boundaries of the Criminal Law (Oxford University Press, 2010b)Google Scholar
  28. Duff, R.A., ‘Perversions and Subversions of Criminal Law’ in R.A. Duff et al (eds), The Boundaries of the Criminal Law (Oxford University Press, 2010c)Google Scholar
  29. Dworkin, Ronald, Taking Rights Seriously (Harvard University Press, 1977)Google Scholar
  30. Europe, Council of, Explanatory Report to Protocol No. 7 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1984)Google Scholar
  31. Farmer, Lindsay, ‘Criminal Wrongs in Historical Perspective’ in R.A. Duff et al (eds), The Boundaries of the Criminal Law (Oxford University Press, 2010)Google Scholar
  32. Feinberg, Joel, Harm to Others (Oxford University Press, 1986)Google Scholar
  33. Ferguson, Pamela R., ‘‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes …’: The Criminalisation of Smoking in Enclosed Public Places, the Harm Principle and the Limits of the Criminal Sanction’ (2011) 31(2) Legal Studies 259Google Scholar
  34. Finkelstein, Claire, ‘Positivism and the Notion of an Offense’ (2000) 88 California Law Review 335Google Scholar
  35. Garner, Bryan A., Black’s Law Dictionary (West, 9th ed, 2009)Google Scholar
  36. Green, Stuart P., ‘Why It’s a Crime to Tear the Tag Off a Mattress: Overcriminalization and the Moral Content of Regulatory Offenses’ (1997) 46(1) Emory Law Journal 1533Google Scholar
  37. Green, Stuart P., ‘Rationing Criminal Procedure: A Comment on Ashworth and Zedner’ (2008) 2(1) Criminal Law and Philosophy 53Google Scholar
  38. Guinchard, Audrey, ‘Fixing the Boundaries of the Concept of Crime: The Challenge for Human Rights’ (2005) 54(3) International and Comparative Law Quarterly 719Google Scholar
  39. Hart, Henry M., ‘The Aims of the Criminal Law’ (1958) 23(3) Law and Contemporary Problems 401Google Scholar
  40. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate, Exercising Discretion: The Gateway to Justice (2011)Google Scholar
  41. Hildebrandt, Mireille, ‘Justice and Police: Regulatory Offenses and the Criminal Law’ (2009) 12(1) New Criminal Law Review 43Google Scholar
  42. Hildebrandt, Mireille, ‘Criminal Liability and “Smart” Environments’ in R.A. Duff and Stuart P. Green (eds), Philosophical Foundations of Criminal Law (Oxford University Press, 2011)Google Scholar
  43. Hirschl, Ran, ‘The Question of Case Selection in Comparative Constitutional Law’ (2005) 53(1) American Journal of Comparative Law 125Google Scholar
  44. HM Government and College of Policing, Consultation on Out of Court Disposals (2013)Google Scholar
  45. Hörnle, Tatjana, ‘Theories of Criminalization’ in Markus D. Dubber and Tatjana Hörnle (eds), Oxford Handbook of Criminal Law (Oxford University Press, 2014)Google Scholar
  46. Husak, Douglas, ‘Criminal Law as Last Resort’ (2004) 24(2) Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 207Google Scholar
  47. Husak, Douglas, Overcriminalization: The Limits of the Criminal Law (Oxford University Press, 2008)Google Scholar
  48. Husak, Douglas, ‘Lifting the Cloak: Preventive Detention as Punishment’ (2011) 48(4) San Diego Law Review 1173Google Scholar
  49. Hyde, Richard, ‘What is “Regulatory Crime”? – An Examination of Academic, Judicial and Legislative Concepts’ (Web Journal of Current Legal Issues) (2012) (4)
  50. Jansen, Oswald and Philip M. Langbroek (eds), Defence Rights during Administrative Investigations: A Comparative Study into Defence Rights during Administrative Investigations against EU Fraud in England & Wales, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and Switzerland (Intersentia, 2007)Google Scholar
  51. Jansen, Oswald (ed), Administrative Sanctions in the European Union (Intersentia, 2013)Google Scholar
  52. Jareborg, Nils, ‘Criminalization as Last Resort (Ultima Ratio)’ (2004) 2(2) Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law 521Google Scholar
  53. Jehle, Jorg-Martin and Marianne Wade (eds), Coping with Overloaded Criminal Justice Systems: The Rise of Prosecutorial Power Across Europe (Springer, 2006)Google Scholar
  54. Kohler-Hausmann, Issa, ‘Misdemeanor Justice: Control without Conviction’ (2013) 119(2) American Journal of Sociology 351Google Scholar
  55. Kohler-Hausmann, Issa, ‘Managerial Justice and Mass Misdemeanors’ (2014) 66(3) Stanford Law Review 611Google Scholar
  56. Lamond, Grant, ‘What is A Crime?’ (2007) 27(4) Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 609Google Scholar
  57. Law Commission, Criminal Liability in Regulatory Contexts (2010)Google Scholar
  58. Luna, Erik, ‘The Overcriminalization Phenomenon’ (2005) 54(3) American University Law Review 703Google Scholar
  59. Macrory, Richard B., Regulatory Justice: Making Sanctions Effective (2006)Google Scholar
  60. Macrory, Richard, ‘Sanctions and Safeguards: The Brave New World of Regulatory Enforcement’ (2013) 66(1) Current Legal Problems 233Google Scholar
  61. Mann, Kenneth, ‘Punitive Civil Sanctions: The Middleground Between Criminal and Civil Law’ (1992) 101(8) Yale Law Journal 1795Google Scholar
  62. Mann, Trischa, Australian Law Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 2nd ed, 2013)Google Scholar
  63. Maurici, James and Richard Macrory, ‘Rethinking Regulatory Sanctions – Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008 – An Exchange of Letters’ (2009) 21(4) Environmental Law and Management 183Google Scholar
  64. McBarnet, Doreen, Conviction: Law, the State and the Construction of Justice (MacMillan, 1981)Google Scholar
  65. Melissaris, Emmanuel, ‘Theories of Crime and Punishment’ in Markus D. Dubber and Tatjana Hörnle (eds), Oxford Handbook of Criminal Law (Oxford University Press, 2014)Google Scholar
  66. Ministry of Justice, Swift and Sure Justice: The Government’s Plans for Reform of the Criminal Justice System (2012)Google Scholar
  67. Natapoff, Alexandra, ‘Misdemeanors’ (2012) 85(5) Southern California Law Review 1313Google Scholar
  68. Natapoff, Alexandra, ‘Misdemeanor Decriminalization’ (2015) 68(4) Vanderbilt Law Review 1055Google Scholar
  69. National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Minor Crimes, Massive Waste: The Terrible Toll of America’s Broken Misdemeanor Courts (2009)Google Scholar
  70. Nguyen, Dung Dang, ‘On the Vietnamese Legal Framework of Administrative Handling (‘Ve phap luat xu ly hanh chinh cua Viet Nam’)’ (2011) (20) Legislative Studies Journal 6Google Scholar
  71. Nguyen, Loc Dinh, ‘Codificating the Legal Framework of Handling Administrative Offences – A Ripe Issue (‘Phap dien hoa phap luat ve xu ly vi pham hanh chinh – Van de da chin muoi’)’ (Paper presented at the Directions for Making the Act of Handling Administrative Offences, Ministry of Justice and UNDP, 2008)Google Scholar
  72. Norris, Julie and Jeremy Phillips, The Law of Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions: A Practical Guide (Oxford University Press, 2011)Google Scholar
  73. Office for Criminal Justice Reform, Initial Findings from a Review of the Use of Out-Of-Court Disposals (2010)Google Scholar
  74. Ohana, Daniel, ‘Regulatory Offenses and Administrative Sanctions: Between Criminal and Administrative Law’ in Markus D. Dubber and Tatjana Hörnle (eds), Oxford Handbook of Criminal Law (Oxford University Press, 2014)Google Scholar
  75. Oliver, Peter, ‘‘Diagnostics’ – A Judgment Applying the Convention of Human Rights to the Field of Competition’ (2012) 3(2) Journal of European Competition Law & Practice 163Google Scholar
  76. Ormerod, David, Smith and Hogan’s Criminal Law (Oxford University Press, 13th ed, 2011)Google Scholar
  77. Peerenboom, Randall, ‘Out of the Pan and into the Fire: Well-Intentioned but Misguided Recommendations to Eliminate All Forms of Administrative Detention in China’ (2004) 98(3) Northwestern University Law Review 991Google Scholar
  78. Posner, Richard A., Law, Pragmatism, and Democracy (Harvard University Press, 2003)Google Scholar
  79. Robinson, Paul H., ‘Punishing Dangerousness: Cloaking Preventive Detention as Criminal Justice’ (2001) 114(5) Harvard Law Review 1429Google Scholar
  80. Sayre, Francis Bowes, ‘Public Welfare Offenses’ (1933) 33(1) Columbia Law Review 55Google Scholar
  81. Seidman, Louis Michael, ‘Points of Intersection: Discontinuities at the Junction of Criminal Law and the Regulatory State’ (1996) 7(1) Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues 97Google Scholar
  82. Simester, A.P., ‘Is Strict Liability Always Wrong?’ in A.P. Simester (ed), Appraising Strict Liability (Oxford University Press, 2005)Google Scholar
  83. Simester, A.P. et al, Simester and Sullivan’s Criminal Law: Theory and Doctrine (Hart Publishing, 2013)Google Scholar
  84. Slobogin, Christopher, ‘A Jurisprudence of Dangerousness’ (2003) 98(1) Northwestern University Law Review 1Google Scholar
  85. Slobogin, Christopher, ‘The Civilization of the Criminal Law’ (2005) 58(1) Vanderbilt Law Review 121Google Scholar
  86. Spencer, John R. and Antje Pedain, ‘Strict Liability in Continental Criminal Law’ in A.P. Simester (ed), Appraising Strict Liability (Oxford University Press, 2005)Google Scholar
  87. Sprack, John, A Practical Approach to Criminal Procedure (Oxford University Press, 13 ed, 2011)Google Scholar
  88. Steiker, Carol S., ‘Punishment and Procedure: Punishment Theory and the Criminal-Civil Procedural Divide’ (1997) 85(4) Georgetown Law Journal 775Google Scholar
  89. Stevenson, Kim and Candida Harris, ‘Inaccessible and Unknowable: Accretion and Uncertainty in Modern Criminal Law’ (2008) 29(3) Liverpool Law Review 247Google Scholar
  90. Stuntz, William J., ‘The Pathological Politics of Criminal Law’ (2001) 100(3) Michigan Law Review 505Google Scholar
  91. Tadros, Victor, ‘Criminalization and Regulation’ in R.A. Duff et al (eds), The Boundaries of the Criminal Law (Oxford University Press, 2010)Google Scholar
  92. Thorburn, Malcolm, ‘Constitutionalism and the Limits of the Criminal Law’ in R.A. Duff et al (eds), The Structures of the Criminal Law (Oxford University Press, 2011)Google Scholar
  93. Thornburgh, Dick, ‘The Dangers of Over-Criminalization and the Need for Real Reform: The Dilemma of Artificial Entities and Artificial Crimes’ (2007) 44(4) American Criminal Law Review 1279Google Scholar
  94. Tyler, Tom R., Why People Obey the Law (Yale University Press, 1990)Google Scholar
  95. UK Government, Criminal Courts.
  96. United Nations Human Rights Committee, CCPR/C/GC/32, General Comment No. 32: Article 14Right to Equality before Courts and Tribunals and to a Fair Trial (23 August 2007)Google Scholar
  97. Volokh, Eugene, ‘Crime Severity and Constitutional Line-Drawing’ (2004) 90(7) Virginia Law Review 1957Google Scholar
  98. von Hirsch, Andrew and Andrew Ashworth, Proportionate Sentencing: Exploring the Principles (Oxford University Press, 2005)Google Scholar
  99. Walker, Kirsty, 3,000 New Criminal Offences Created Since Tony Blair Came to Power DailyMail.
  100. Weigend, Thomas, ‘The Legal and Practical Problems Posed by the Difference between Criminal Law and Administrative Penal Law’ (1988) 59 Revue Internationale de Droit Pénal 57Google Scholar
  101. Williams, Glanville, ‘The Definition of Crime’ (1955) 8(1) Current Legal Problems 107Google Scholar
  102. Woods, Jordan Blair, ‘Decriminalization, Police Authority, and Routine Traffic Stops’ (2015) 62(3) UCLA Law Review 672Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lecturer, Law SchoolVietnam National University HanoiHanoiVietnam

Personalised recommendations