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Guest Book Review With Thom Dyke

Banks on Sentence (2 vols., 6th edn.)

With the pupillage season in full swing and those all important interviews on the horizon, I am really pleased to welcome Thom Dyke to The Pupillage Blog for a Guest Book Review upon Banks on Sentence (2 vols., 6th edn.) by Robert Banks.

Guest Book Review With Thom Dyke – Banks on Sentence (2 vols., 6th edn.)

In T.S. Eliot’s poem, the eponymous J. Alfred Prufrock measured out his life in coffee spoons. I measure my life by the similarly mundane milestones of the new editions of Archbold or The White Book. But for those of you measuring your life by the altogether more depressing marker of the annual pupillage application season, 5 May saw the publication of the sixth edition of Banks on Sentence.

Why (I hear you cry), should you be interested in shelling out your hard earned cash on another textbook? Well, as anyone who has been through the gruelling process of pupillage interviews will attest, interview committees love to set topical legal discussion questions. Particularly for those of you who have applied to criminal or common law sets, there is nothing more current than the issues surrounding sentencing, as shown by the recent furore over Ken Clarke’s comments over increasing the discount for early guilty pleas in rape cases.

So forewarned is forearmed. This isn’t to say that pupillage committees will necessarily expect you to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the penalties for every obscure offence, but you will certainly be expected to be able to talk with a certain degree of confidence about the wider issues that arise from sentencing and the application of the guidelines. Being able to demonstrate a solid grasp of sentencing issues is certainly one way you can impress an interview panel.

And that’s where Banks comes in. Although it carries the fairly hefty price tag of £94 (if you buy both volumes together online), it is pretty much the practitioner’s go-to guide to sentencing procedure, guidelines and case law. (I appreciate I’m not mentioning Thomas, but there’s a limit to what fits in a wheely bag!) The new edition is divided up into two volumes for the first time. Volume 1 aims to collect all the various principles, procedures and orders together in one place. Volume 2 is essentially based around the previous edition of Banks, but has been brought up to date by expanding on the number of cases dealing with the more commonly occurring offences.

And for those of you who do bag a pupillage offer this year, spending some time before you start your first six reading up on the key sentencing guidelines will be time well spent, not to mention paying dividends when you are on your feet in your second six. The only question your client is ever really and truly interested in, is what kind of sentence they are likely to get. Although it will take a while for you to get an intuitive feel for the likely outcome, if you know your way around the guidelines and case law for the most common offences, then it’s one less thing to be nervous about during your early court appearances.

Thom Dyke is a barrister practising in human rights, criminal and public law.
Banks on Sentence (2 vols., 6th edn.) by Robert Banks £94.00

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