Law as Last Resort: Prosecution Decision-Making in a Regulatory Agency


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Law as Last Resort: Prosecution Decision-Making in a Regulatory Agency Author: Format: Paperback / softback First Published: Published By: Oxford University Press Pages: 508 Language: English ISBN: 9780199243891 Categories: ,

This is a book about the life of the legal system. Its concern is legal decision-making, its focus the handling of prosecution cases in a regulatory agency. In almost all legal disputing formalities are employed as a last resort for a small proportion of cases. Case attrition is a constant feature in the legal system, whether criminal or civil, since extensive pre-trial negotiations search for solutions to problems that avoid the costs, risks, and delays of trial. This book analyzes the attrition of cases by studying decisions made about their creation, handling, disposal, and prosecution. Exploring these issues asks questions about the public face of law, the meaning of formal processes, and their impact on pre-trial legal manoeuvring. To prosecute is to enforce the law in both a public and a consequential way. In enforcing regulation prosecution visibly takes sides in the fundamental dilemma of regulatory control about how far law should justifiably intervene in business. Using extensive data collected over a fifteen-year period, and with privileged access to the UK Health and Safety Executive, the book presents a multi-level analysis of decisions about prosecution policy and individual cases in a variety of inspectorates.

Weight0.601 kg


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This is an excellent "interpretive" socio-legal study of the prosecutorial decision-making by the officers in the British Health and Safety Executive ... the book does draw conclusions about how legal officials actually make decisions, and these insights will be of great interest to policy makers. * Regulation at Work * This is an impressive book, providing a fascinating account of the decision-making process within an orginization which must satisfy different and sometimes competing demands, demonstrating the ways in which HSE inspectors move between their roles as regulators, enforcers, and prosecutors. * Journal of Law and Society * Hawkins has used his extensive empirical material well ... the analytical framework is sophisticated and well nuanced and the argument clearly and powerfully expressed. Hawkins set the standard for enforcement studies in 1984: this book sets it again only at a much higher level. * Law Quarterly Review * The wealth of empirical detail permits a fine-grained analysis, and the time-span facilitates some generalisations about the nature of enforcement processes ... The most notable advance, however, is the development of a sophisticated and nuanced theoretical framework for analysing decision making in enforcement. * Law Quarterly Review * This book is the culmination of nearly twenty years' work on the enforcement of health and safety regulation in the United Kingdom. It is also theoretically and analytically a highly sophisticated study of legal decision-making which deserves to be widely read by lawyers and regulationists alike. * Law Quarterly Review * ... a fascinating and sometimes compelling book ... the book's interest and importance is its enormous scope ... The material and analysis in this book will be useful across a range of fields of study ... raises important questions about sovereignty, and about the formulation and transmission of policies that have such an important public impact. * Legal Studies *

Author Biography

Keith Hawkins is Reader in Law and Society, and Fellow and Tutor in Law at Oriel College, Oxford